My beloved show, Mad Men, ended last week after 8 years and 7 seasons. In priming their fans for this ultimate finale, AMC ran a marathon of the whole series the week before. I DVR'ed all of the episodes and hoped to sift through them before watching the final installment. I didn’t make it through all of them, but I hand picked a few favorites from each season and fast-forwarded to some of the best-remembered moments. I stopped on one from 10/18/07 called The Wheel. Don was pitching an ad campaign to Kodak trying to secure the account for their new slide-projecting wheel. It might be my favorite slice of viewing from this brilliantly crafted show.
Don tells the client, “In Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound, a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. We travel back to a place where we know we are loved.” I mean, come on! That’s poetry.
I’ve always had an affection for things that are old. Vintage clothing, mid-century furniture, Art Deco design, music from the past, and especially food with a history. Our current times are fantastic, yet so many romantic qualities exist in many things that came before. And who doesn’t like romance? Not just hearts and flowers romance, but romance that holds mystique, glamour, and charm.
When it comes to actual romance in relationships, I try not to ache for my past. That used to be a tricky thing for me because I would replay sweet memories over and over in my mind thinking I could will them back into my present. And many times I did! Many of my romantic partnerships dragged on forever because I settled for ‘on again/off again.’ I endured long distance relationships because I could sustain my feelings by fueling the in-between times with thoughts from the last time we were together. As you can imagine, I never truly recreated those initial sweet happenings that left me with the memories. As intoxicating as they can be, memories are not fuel. Traveling back to a place where I knew I was loved was dangerous and it kept me stuck living in the past.
In that same episode, another wise character from Mad Men, Joan Harris, says something that I would like to see written on a billboard in Times Square or put on a t-shirt so everyone can see: “Sometimes when people get what they want they realize how limited their goals were.” Those words just knock me out. Her words are a reminder that just because we get something we want it doesn’t mean it’s good for us. They encourage me to set my standards high, to make my goals lofty, to give myself plenty of room to grow and learn on the journey to getting what I want. It's rewarding to receive or achieve something that isn’t just handed to us, right?
I’ll be honest and say that I’ve been dating. There is an app. For dating. On your phone. And it is EASY. Easy to meet people, easy to talk to people, easy to go out with people, and easy to walk away. Don’t get me wrong, it takes courage and guts and intuition and risk to put ourselves out there. But it’s very immediate and connections reveal themselves quickly. There's not too much mystique, but believe me nobody really cares about the past - theirs or yours.
It's funny how times have changed. In the good old days (Who named them that? Times are good right NOW!), couples would meet at malt shops and sock hops. Girls would wait for the guy to ask them to the drive-in movie, they'd get pinned, go steady, and on and on. Okay, so I am completely basing this off of the television show Happy Days...Present-day relationships are crafted a bit differently. And Happy Days left out boys asking out boys and girls asking out girls. Modern love thankfully has options for everybody. Today we curate profiles, put our best social media foot forward, and have conversations with our thumbs on the keypad of a phone. Everyone is trying to create new experiences. First dates, hook ups, and meeting new people has been empowering, liberating, and a LOT of fun, but as I recently asked one of my new gentleman friends from the app, “Don’t we all ultimately want to be chosen by another person and loved?”
Am I being old fashioned? Nope. Love never goes out of style. Maybe the ways we find love have evolved, but we will always be processing love through our heart, that part will always be the same. There is nothing wrong with nostalgia and romance. I think I will always be looking for love through the lens of my past. Traveling back to the place in my mind and heart where I knew I was loved isn’t a bad thing. It’s proof that love is possible. It’s evidence that I am lovable. So I find this little app and contemporary courtship tactic of our modern times to be very encouraging. It is actually clarifying what I want and what I have to give. I'm in no hurry, somebody's gotta be looking for me just as I'm looking for him, right? It's only a matter of time!
Saying goodbye to Mad Men also made me nostalgic for my childhood. Sally Draper and I led very different lives, thankfully, but we both had foxy mothers that entertained. Every time company came, this pink cake would magically appear. I had no idea it was made with Jell-o until I asked my Mom for the recipe this week. How retro! And who uses the word oleo anymore unless they're doing a crossword puzzle?
There were no other instructions than what you see on the card. I mixed all the cake ingredients together and followed the instructions on the box of cake mix. For the frosting, I did the same thing. My Mom thought she would melt the butter, I left it solid, but softened, and added a few drops of water to coax the butter and sugar into combining. In both the cake and the frosting, the strawberries are roughly chopped, the mixer kind of smooshes them up perfectly. I left some strawberries whole for garnish.