Jennifer Ziegler is the acclaimed author of Alpha Dog and How Not to Be Popular. She lives in Austin, Texas with her family. Her latest release is Sass and Serendipity, the story of two teenage sisters, Daphne and Gabby, which is meant to be a homage to one of her favourite novels, Sense and Sensibility. Jenny is my guest today with a lovely guestpost: "Kismet and Kisses".
Leave your comment + e-mail address and you'll get the chance to win a copy of her new novel Sass and Serendipity. Open worldwide, this giveaway ends on September 12 when the winner is announced.
Kismet and Kisses
I remember as a young girl planning to fall in love. That’s right – planning it. When boy craziness hit me (and it hit me hard), I felt I should be ready. I made a list of the qualities I wanted in a romantic partner. Then I made a list of boys I found appealing and rated them according to the traits on the first list. The higher their “score,” the more effort I put into winning them over.
The characteristics I was searching for in a mate ranged from the general “cute” and “good sense of humor” to the more specific “must like dogs” and “must love the Beatles and/or Bowie.” This led to some strange and rather hilarious conversations.
Me: I like your jeans.
Me (picking a piece of lint of the leg of his
): Oh, is this dog hair? Do you have a dog? Levis
Me: Do you wish you had one?
Thus, I searched for a boyfriend the way I now shop for used vacuum cleaners on Craigslist – trying to find one in my range, with all the features I wanted, that wasn’t too damaged from previous treatment. I soon discovered that just because a guy owned a golden retriever and sat on the third row of
’s Serious Moonlight tour, he wasn’t a guaranteed perfect match. Bowie
After a while, I gave up actively searching for a love interest and started to embrace the notion that love found you rather than the other way around. So I read a lot of Richard Bach and waited for my soulmate to drop into my life. I assumed it would happen like it did in the movies. A random guy – adorable, of course – would save me from being run down by a moped. Or we would accidentally touch hands as we both reached for the same block of imported cheese in Whole Foods. We would laugh, apologize, make idle chit-chat (“Oh, are you a fan of Manchego, too?”), and suddenly recognize each other as the other halves of our divine selves.
Unfortunately, the only thing that resulted from this mindset was that I stared a little more rabidly at good-looking male strangers. There was no romantic rescue, no heavenly moment over a grab for a Radiohead CD, no “knowing.” I was just as confused as before.
These two contrasting outlooks on love formed the basis of my novel Sass & Serendipity, which is loosely based on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. One of my protagonists, Gabby, says she doesn’t believe in the concept of true love, and feels that any romantic union should be approached like a math problem. Her younger sister, Daphne, believes that everyone has a perfect partner that they are destined to meet. Both sisters suffer major disappointments and end up reexamining their views on love. The ending, however, is hopeful.
And what was my own ending? What happened to my younger boy-crazy self? Well, I finally just calmed the heck down. Relationships happened. Marriage happened. Life happened. These things didn’t entirely happen to me, and I didn’t entirely make them happen either. It was a mixture of fortune and fortitude.
Amid the science of brain chemistry and studies of human behavior, there is so much about love that remains mysterious – and I’m fine with that. Perhaps that’s why in order to better understand matters of the heart, I’m more likely to pick up a Jane Austen novel than an anthropology textbook. And why my own stories explore the same issues, raise the same questions, and (while they never give hard-and-fast answers) always conclude on an optimistic note. For I do believe that where there is love, there is hope.
If there is a serendipity to love it is this: that love brings about more love. So instead of searching for it in the cheese aisle of the grocery store, we should look for it within ourselves and embrace who we are. More than anything it is this power of accepting and loving ourselves that will allow the Mr. Darcys and Colonel Brandons to come into our lives. Better still, it will lead to deeper and truer friendships, community, and happiness.