Family, Heartbreak

Why I No Longer Have A 'Do-Or-Die' Love For Jane Pratt

Jane Pratt Deena Cortese

I'm a Sassy girl. Yes, the adjective applies, but mostly I'm talking about the beloved teen magazine Sassy (RIP, 1988-1994).

To this day, I still own every issue of Sassy. Granted, they're piled up in a box in my parents' house in New Hampshire, but they're still there. I don't think I'll ever get rid of them. Every time I write a confessional piece about my love life, I realize exactly where that courage in me to expose myself with such raw, gut-wrenching honesty comes from: Sassy.

Sassy with a young Jane Pratt at the helm, for me, made confessional writing an important part of the post-breakup (and otherwise) healing process. Well, Sassy and a healthy dose of Sylvia Plath. It was in the ongoing segment "It Happened To Me" that I found my voice as a writer, and as a person who wanted to relate to my readers. The magazine showed me that not only was I not alone, but the freaks of the world had a platform for our voices.

When Sassy ceased to be the Sassy I had loved like a best friend after Pratt was no longer editor-in-chief, I dropped it and waited for Pratt's return. When her second attempt at a publication came around with the eponymously named magazine Jane, I went back for more. Again, I loved every minute of it. But then something changed: It no longer made sense in my life. I don't know if I grew up, evolved or just lost the Sassy girl I had always been. What once seemed irreverent to me, was no longer. I had had the necessary foundation that was Jane Pratt in my life, and suddenly, I no longer needed her. I'd like to think it's not because I grew up, but because her magazines had already taught me everything I needed to know about always being myself even if the masses didn't approve.

When xoJane rolled around in 2011 as a reincarnation of Jane magazine, again, I was excited at the notion of the new version of Pratt. Although she's 15 years older than me, I thought that now, as a woman in her early 30s and Pratt in her late 40s, the connection I felt from my Sassy days would be there once more. Perhaps we were finally on the same playing field again and it would be like having brunch with an old friend. It wasn't.

As a recent profile about her in New York mag says, Pratt has indeed been "15 for an awfully long time now;" she declares that as her "emotional" age, or the age you will never forget because something really life-changing happened to you. I guess mine is a bit older.

I did my best to try to love xoJane with the same do-or-die love that came from my Sassy days, but the problem is, I'm not 15; I don't believe in do-or-die love anymore. It was no longer entertaining to read these "It Happened To Me" pieces, which now seem to be more for getting page-views than for the legitimate desire to relate to her readers. It had become old to see photos of texts from Michael Stipe as if Pratt needed to verify that she and he are still friends. Yes, we know, Jane, you tell us all the time. (Am I the only one who remembers her dancing in that daisy dress in REM's "Shiny Happy People" video?)

I haven't read Sassy in years. I just can't bring myself to go through that box at my parents' house. I don't want to know that maybe I have grown up, that a part of me has reached the adult part of my life I swore I'd stave off as long as I could like a plague. I don't want to have my suspicions confirmed.

I'm still a Sassy girl. Jane Pratt is and will always be someone whom I'll admire greatly, but since her "emotional age" is at 15 and mine is older (although probably not by much), I just don't think we can be friends anymore. Even the most do-or-die loves are sometimes not meant to last, and that's probably the best thing about them. It forces you to savor them in the present and indulge in nostalgia when they're behind you. They made you who you are, even if you don't need them anymore.