Monday, March 19, 2012

Deep Thoughts on Love... and Zombies

I find that the older I get, I become both more and less romantic. Less romantic in that I care less for romantic gestures. John Cusack with his boombox might strike out with me these days. But more romantic in the way that I feel more and more convinced, especially after a very rough last year, that finding someone you love and who loves you wholeheartedly in return can change the course of your life, and give the spice and emotional support to live it. Really, I don't think this is just about romantic love, but familial love and deep friendships too--people who are invested in each other and care for one another.
In literature and tv and movies, the story catalyst often hinges on love. A lone cowboy or gladiator is willing to change his ways and risk it all for a woman. A girl is willing to do anything, even if it means giving up her life, for the chance to be with her vampire boyfriend. In the Zombie apocalypse, like in The Walking Dead, love for the same woman is both a curse for one man, and a source of hope and will to survive for another. That show really makes me think sometimes. Apocalypse stories generally repel me, but that show manages to captivate me, both for the exciting zombie chase scenes, and for all the talking/feelings scenes. This season seems to be equal part of those.

Of all the supernatural stories, I can stomach zombies the least. Zombie apocalypse stories seems so hopeless, the hope for the survivors so thin. Inevitably someone you love turns into a zombie, and then you have to kill the one you love. And the hopelessness is so relentless. There’s this scene in one of Carrie Ryan’s zombie trilogy that sticks with me—the survivors are in a gated city, but the zombies just keep falling and piling up on one another until you know the pile of bodies will make a bridge up and over the gates. Or Libba Bray’s short story in the Zombies vs. Unicorns collections where the normally heartwarming parental sentiment—‘I will always come back for you’—takes on chilling secondary meanings. The scene at the end of that short-story, I can’t seem to shake, even though I read it a year ago.

I digress a bit, but my main point, which apocalypse stories and others highlight, is that the course and trajectory of your whole life can hinge on another person coming into it and love sprouting up. It’s not just apocalypse stories where love between two people gives the kind of hope to keep on keeping on. Real life feels like that sometimes too—this fight to keep your head afloat. Sometimes it’s hard to find meaning in the daily grind, but having someone who you love, having a family, provides this ground foundation that you build and nourish hope on. It’s the place where hope springs up fresh every day, enough to sustain you for this year and then the next.  I’ve been the fool in times past when I didn’t see that, but I see it now clearly, and hold tightly to the ones I love.