But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon
By far Romeo and Juliet is my favorite Shakespearean play. I was 17 when the movie Romeo + Juliet came to the theater and I was there with a couple of friends to see it. I loved it just as I loved the play. A lot of people didn’t like it. They either didn’t like the modernist theme or they didn’t like the original dialogue. But I loved the combination. More so I fell into a mad crush with Claire Danes (who happens to be my age) more than I already had with her in the show “My so called life.”
It wasn’t more than six months later when I met who I considered to be my first love. In so many ways she reminded me of Claire Danes and I often referred to her as my Juliet. You have to understand that when I was a teenager I was far more of a hopeless romantic than I could ever dream of being now. But that’s what first loves will do to you.
We were together for four and a half years and when we broke up it crushed me. It took me more than a good year to get over her, but eventually I did. In the end, based on some advice a good friend gave me, I came to the realization that it wasn’t her I loved so much. It was the idea of her that I had built up in my mind that I was truly in love with. I had formed in my imagination this idea that she was my Juliet. I had fallen in love with the notion of a perfect love that could never be destroyed and yet it was.
Years later I ran into her and talked to her again. What was the big deal about her I thought? There wasn’t a big deal. She was just a normal person now. What had existed between us was a combination of the time in our lives it had been and what I had built up about it in my mind during that time. Now it was gone.
After you go through this experience with your first true love and you come out alive, you’re left for a while with a sour taste in your mouth toward love. Eventually you balance out and I had. But like many who come out of that experience, you throw down your fantastical notions about what love is supposed to be. The fairy tale changes. You begin to form a realistic standard about love. This is not to say that romance dies and true love is never again achieved. No. In fact your new view of love is much more genuine and as a result it has a better chance at actually surviving.
This is not a sad tale. If anything this is the story that Romeo and Juliet failed to tell. It never got beyond the all-consuming lust driven notion of first love. It is after all a tragedy like so many of Shakespeare’s plays. But the real tragedy is not that it ended in Romeo and Juliet dying in each others arms. The real tragedy is that it fails to inform those like myself at the time that there is love after your first love. That such a love is far greater than that which is portrayed in the writing.