When I was 15 I saw the movie The Rules of Attraction. Incomplete and meandering, it’s an easy movie to hate. And yet it held me like no other movie before. It was for me, the most revolutionary thing I had ever seen, and so in that sense it accomplished everything that it set out to do. Where other movies were escapism from reality, this was a promise of a future to come.
I still vividly remember the basement I sat in when I watched the movie, and the looks of revolt on my friends’ faces at the debasing crisscrossing storylines. I once heard the director say it ‘was a movie about college, if you had a terrible college experience’. But I didn’t see it that way. In the darkness of the story, there was freedom, and an escape from the relentlessly boring and cruel small town life I had never been able to comprehend. I was a good kid, but the world wasn’t, and I couldn’t make sense of it. This brand of relentless darkness offered an alternative, it made it all seem humorous and absurd. After it finished, I quietly told myself that I would find that life.
The promise of the future became more important as the years went on, and my life became more desperate. ‘Just wait for college,’ became the rallying cry to get out of bed in the mornings, to not break apart in the middle of the day, sometimes it was the only thing that kept me upright. And when I visualized college, I visualized The Rules of Attraction.
And like most things in life that I dreamt about enough, wanted enough, it eventually came true. But of course, not without it’s costs. Those are costs that are easily ignored in the desperation of youth and loneliness, but are still very real, and paid for in their own ways.