Jerry Maguire did us wrong with his “You complete me” bullshit. I was 13 when I saw that movie, and I was like, “You need to complete yourself, dumbass.” My own personal favorite relationships aren’t about making me whole. That’s cheap in real life and it’s cheap on TV. My own personal favorite relationships are about sharpening me and laughing with me and and making the world warmer. And so my favorite fictional love confessions come from this place where Jenny is right now: “You turned a seven-shade rainbow into a cacophony of color, and being with you make everything brighter and more fun.”
Jenny softly says Emma’s name, and Emma bursts out of the door just throwing every fear against the wall to try to find the thing that sticks. She lands, again, on the fact that Jenny slept with the dude-est dude she could find. And, like, that’s been Emma’s number one fear from the beginning, remember? “Is Jenny some kind of London snog-slut or did it mean something when she kissed me?”
Because here’s the thing about realizing you’re into girls. Hardly anyone I know has ever said, “Am I gay?” in the same way they say, “Hey, do you know what the weather’s supposed to be like tomorrow?” Like they just need to figure out how to dress for the occasion. No, when most people ask, “Am I gay?” they ask it with the kind of urgency they would usually reserve for things like, “Do I strap this parachute to my back and jump from this free falling airplane or do I nose dive into the ocean and hope the sharks don’t eat my remains? SINK OR SWIM? LIVE OR DIE? QUENCH THE FIRE OR BURN ALIVE?” It feels so urgent, and the reason it feels so urgent is because you’re probably not just asking, “Hey, do I want to make out with other girls?”
You’re also probably asking: What the hell are my parents going to say when I tell them I want to kiss other girls? And my friends and my co-workers and my classmates and everyone at my family reunion? And what’s that girl going to say when I tell her I want to kiss her? And how is my life ever going to be OK, and how can I go on being the same, and am I the same, and what else do I not know about what’s alive inside me? And who will still love me and who will start hating me, and is God involved, or the government maybe, and what if it’s only one girl I want to kiss, and how do I label myself and must I label myself, and what if I change my mind and, really, what if do burn alive?
So Emma’s thing, all along, has been: If it’s only a game to Jenny, I don’t have to tear myself open and answer all those questions. Emma only has to be real with herself if what’s happening with them is real for Jenny. And that’s where she goes: “Do you get that I was going to come out to be with you?” Do you realize how much of my own blood I had to spill to get to the place where I wrote you that letter? Do you understand how you made me make this real? And this is the saddest part of all: “It was just an experiment to you, wasn’t it? I was just an experiment. You want to know if it was successful? You want to know if you made little Emma think she’s into women? Yeah. You did. Congratulations.”
And then she leaves and tells Jenny not to follow her.
Here’s a thing maybe you already know, but it bears repeating: The heroines of the Bronte novels control the weather with their emotions. And, very similarly, Emma Müller, controls the songs of STAG with her mood. Today, they’re singing us out over Beyonce’s “Beautiful Nightmare,” and Emma’s solo is so earnest that even Luzi is afraid her heart is going to burst on the spot. This version is better than Beyonce’s ‘cause it gets to the heart of the thing. Like how you can lose a person once, but dreams and the moon conspire to make losing them perpetual.
Jenny reads her postcards from Emma for the one hundredth time. No pizza or P!nk ballet this time. Sweet dreams, beautiful nightmare.
Jemma, I don’t want to wake up from you.