“We Found Love” is a song that on the surface I can’t stand. That pop/dance feel, the instant attraction the Top 40 crowd will have to it, thus making it a repetitive part of my part-time, part-legitimate hustle (if you have to ask, you’ll never know)…it was just a bad formula for me personally. But for some reason I saw someone tweet a link to the video, and I clicked. And I watched. A few times. Then the song got stuck in my head. Now a few days later, I’m watching it…again.
Somehow this shit speaks to me. First of all I fuck with Rihanna’s not-giving-even-a-fraction-of-a-fuck attitude. Frolicking around topless in a field in Ireland? Sounds amazing, but yeah, I’m too shy for that. I can’t even let the top down while sunbathing on my Bushwick roof where no one ever seems to go. Her disrespect and nonchalance…I dig it. In a weird way. Some of that shows in this video, but I relate to it not because I’m a disrespectful “cunt,” (I wouldn’t have the balls to wear one of those necklaces either) but because the video is full of cheap thrills. Emphasis on cheap.
As a young twenty-something in the U.S., I’m like most of the “99 Percent” in that money doesn’t come easy, and stress levels are high. I’m trying to live in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world, dealing with questionable landlords, job difficulties like dwindling opportunities and hours, negligence of my own health just because I don’t wanna drop $25 on a co-pay to see my doctor, all that struggling youth shit. And I don’t even have it that bad. I know a ton of people in the same situation as I am, and you know what most of us do to deal with it? We try to counter the bad with some kind of thing that makes us feel good. Love, alcohol, weed. Maybe some other type of drug if you got a connect like that and won’t end up spending massive amounts of dough on it. Some of us turn to crime. Some of us freak out and end up depressed. For some of us it’s all of the above. I’d say that I know more people that turn to shit like this to relieve their stress than, say, working out.
This video is the twenty-something struggle. It’s so much more than just “oooh that guy she chose in the video looks a little too much like Chris Brown!” It’s our generation’s everyday lives. The duo’s drug-fueled shenanigans that they base their eventually destructive relationship around are commonplace. I recently met a guy on the train who, though I didn’t know at the time, had somewhat recently gotten out of jail. Something random happened, long story, and though I had never hung out before with him, I invited him to crash on my kitchen floor with me (where I’ve been sleeping due to some apartment issues). Here we were. Both under 25 years old, killing a bottle of wine, sleeping on a mattress in a kitchen, sharing our woes. He about trying to live a legit life as an ex-con and his hopes for the future, me about trying to find a better place to live when all my cards are stacked against me. The whole situation was reckless…letting a near-stranger into your residence, consuming alcohol around them, falling asleep with my iPhone, a few hundred bucks cash, and a kitchen full of knives around me, etc. Everything my mother would probably tell me not to do.
I woke up the next day alive, and smiling. Well, not quite smiling, I actually was really sick, but it just felt good to not wake up alone and to feel that someone else was sharing my struggle, and understanding it all. I ended up spending about 36 hours with this guy. We hopped in my new(ish) car and sped off to Manhattan at 1am to find food. We ate, and hung out in Central Park after hours since I’d never been there before and he swore nobody would rape, rob, or kill me as long as he was there. By 4am we were back in Brooklyn sitting by the water lost in thought. We sat in my car for like half an hour outside of my crib because it was warmer in my whip than it was in my crib. We had an honest conversation about where in the five boroughs it’s safe to sleep in your car, just in case my situation ever came down to that at some point. Again, we slept on my kitchen floor, we woke up the next morning laughing about how my neighbor was playing “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith at full blast, then he got up, took a shower, and left.
After he left I realized we had just based a whole two and a half days and beginning of a friendship around our hardships. Neither of us ended up on that Bushwick kitchen floor for a good reason, and we both did some seriously stupid shit just to solve the immediate problem and take our minds off of our general stress. I was grateful to this no-longer-a-stranger for making what would have been a horrid few days for me a whole lot better. He also told me something important: “un amigo es un peso en tu bolsillo.” Translated – a friend is a dollar in your pocket. How long does a dollar last in your pocket? Not long, right? Exactly.
For the twenty-somethings of the 99 percent who have nothing stable in life – no job, no solid living situation, maybe not even a healthy relationship, we are in a hopeless place. Much like everything around us, at times it feels like even our love crumbles to bits, kind of like those hopes of a better life after college. How do you foster a happy relationship when everyone is so stressed out? I’ve recently had a falling out with a few really close friends, all of us going through our own significant struggles, and I reached a point that I no longer even wanted to mend the relationships because I know I should be putting my time into other things like the pursuit of money, housing that doesn’t make me sick, or a better plan for my future. I had (have?) genuine love for them, but I think our situations helped fuel our collapse. Yet at the same time, none of us want to be alone through this. Companionship does make things easier, but when we all have our own serious problems to worry about, how good of a friend can we afford to be? It’s no wonder that I wasn’t surprised in the least when I read about the Occupy Wall Street crowd starting to partake in pleasures of the flesh down at the protest grounds. I get it. They’re cold, tired, fed up, and feel like they have nothing. Sex is free. It’s a stress relief. Especially with someone else who is sharing your same struggle. It’s all conjuring up thoughts of Woodstock and that ’60′s hippie movement, except probably with a slightly fewer hallucinogenics. I bet #OWS looks crazy if you’re on mushrooms. But I digress.
So what do we do? We drink away the pain, maybe pop a few pills if you’re as not-giving-a-fuck as our cunt necklace-wearing Billboard chart topper (I suggest you don’t though if you’re like me and looking for employment), dance the night away at some bar/club with someone you might never see again, speed down Broadway with your favorite music on blast, and just hope that things get better. Be reckless because we feel like we don’t have anything to lose. Wonder if we’ll even still be talking to our new friend by the time he gets off parole. Waking up wondering how we’re still alive considering the abuse most of us put ourselves through. And then smoke a cigarette because we’re doing too much thinking. The vicious cycle of the struggling youth, stuck in a hopeless place. Because just like the video, though we have these fleeting moments of happiness, the way we go about getting them isn’t solving any of our problems. At the end of the day, we’re still all fucked up, trying to find a place for ourselves in a society that doesn’t seem to have room for us.