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February 26, 2017

Love in the age of SJP.

From my first memories of Sarah Jessica Parker, her name has become synonymous with: sex, relationships, love, shoes, fashion, New York City, and the quest for love.

I’ve listed them separately because these things often come separately in life—unless you’re in New York, where everything and more is on the menu. But things still mostly come separately, as seen on TV, and as experienced in real-life.

I say SJP instead of Carrie because, well, things change in life—she who once introduced us to Sex and the City is now showing us Divorce. Need I say more?

Things change, now more than ever. Times change, our environments change, and we change with all the things that change around us. Like an earthquake, change can shatter and uproot a lot of things, but no one is wired for this kind of shake-up. We hold onto what we are able to, catch whatever falls our way, and carry on. Some changes matter; others don’t. This is about the one that matters most; this is about love.

Love changes, too.

“It’s enough to make you go crazy, crazy, crazy…”

Lana Del Rey calls it like it is. To be young and in love makes you feel all sorts of crazy.

Dating was a lot simpler in the age of Sex and the City. I was too young to be interested in it at the time, but all the older (cooler) girls in school were constantly talking about it. Then, one summer I binge-watched all the seasons, and can finally appreciate the comparisons to the “four archetypes.”

Because our sex is so simple, we can be categorized into four types (I’m Carrie, obv, a relationship columnist in New York with expensive shoes, dating all the wrong men. It’s comical). But the show hits home with a couple key things—feminism and sexuality. Female-friendships and brunch. Timeless, really. But times change. For someone who didn’t care for sex when SATC came out, now brunch conversations with the girls have become about the divorced men we are dating and their ex-wives and kids and…I guess this is part of growing up.

There’s a lot about love that I didn’t see coming. I guess that’s why they say love blinds you. Even with all the forms and permutations that a relationship could take, as exhibited in SATC, on prime time now are episodes of Divorce. How things fall apart…

So many roads, so many detours, so many choices, so many mistakes…” ~ Sarah Jessica Parker

Love is like surfing. Sometimes we ride the waves we catch, but sometimes they knock us over, and we’re down under gasping for air. The best kind of relationship feels like an intimate tango, but most of the time, our lives become hijacked and taken for a ride. We inadvertently let this happen, and protest when it’s often too late.

“You have no right to do this. You can’t just come and f*ck up my life!” says Carrie in SATC days, but oh, how they do. We can proclaim our non-existent rights and they will still come and f*ck up our lives—as long as we allow them to. Someone once said to me, “You let one as*hole slide and a team starts figure-skating.” I never forgot that.

Love can be ruthless. As much myth-making as SATC has been, the first sight of Frances in Divorce shows us that time and love can make any bright-eyed optimistic girl into a disenchanted, disengaged, sullen, middle-aged woman. Time takes care of all of us, someone once said. But I would dare say, so do the waves of love we experience in the seas. They can be so unkind.

Maybe our mistakes are what makes our fate.” ~ Sarah Jessica Parker

An optimist’s take, no doubt, but the point being—no one has love figured out. However, there is one thing that remains consistent between Carrie and Frances over the years, and that is the declaration that, “The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

Between the themes and life-cycles of new love and divorce, an evident parallel is that both coming-together and separation are easier to declare than execute. It takes real commitment and emotional reckoning to do both, and whatever the end-game is, the path of loving, losing, and how we start again becomes a part of our identity.

While we will all have our own experience—and confront our own twist of narratives and entanglements—love and separation don’t have to be so messy, unforgiving, and incomprehensible. We can learn from Carrie’s romanticism as much as we can learn from Frances’ more tempered emotional palette—and our own lives don’t have to mirror the upheavals they go through.

Learning from someone else’s mistakes is always the better option. But, when we f*ck up, it’s okay, because ultimately, we don’t have to worry about ratings or if our season will be cancelled, because love is the prime-time show of our lives.

How we interpret it, how we pursue it, and how we treat it will vary with time, but this show will be forever on, forever playing. The co-stars and guest-stars will change as people come and go in our lives, but their existence depends on how we write our own script. And yes, we do have that power to write our own love story—whatever story that may be. So it might as well be a damn good one.

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Author: Xiren Wang

Image: Sex and the City still

Editor: Travis May

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