"I guess when you're young, you just believe there'll be many people with whom you'll connect with. Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times"
- Céline in Before Sunset
So, something made me remember the Before Sunrise and Before Sunset movies (a new one is reportedly being made) and so I watched them recently. Wow what a trip. In the first, two meet on a train and share 24 hours together in Vienna. Mostly the movie is dialogue. They end planning to meet again in 6 months but decide to not exchange phone numbers. Céline is the romantic and Jessie, an American is cynical in love and life, though he certainly falls for her.
Fast forward 9 years, and in the sequel, Before Sunset, he's in Paris on the last stop of his book tour. He'd written a fictional book about a love relationship that is, in fact, based on their experience. Céline shows up at the reading and they proceed to spend the next few hours together before he has to fly home. It turns out she never showed up 9 years before because her grandmother died. But he did. In this movie, she has become the cynic and he has taken from his brief encounter with her a more optimistic life view, though he also has been "stuck" in an unhappy marriage. The scene very close to the end in the taxicab is the most intense, where they both get honest about their lives and the disappointments that came from the missed connection from 9 years before, and how it affected their lives.
The dialogue from Céline resonated so closely to my own life, and my feelings. She is an environmental activist working for the Green Cross, and the way she talks she uses this playfully sarcastic tone where she tells the truth but in a slightly joking self-deprecating way, that can't totally be captured in the dialogue here but it's VERY MUCH the way I talk, myself. (In fact my daughter recently told me she sometimes can't tell when I am joking and when I am not - I use a lot of deadpan humor...)
Here's a link to the scene on Youtube the cab dialogue starts at 0:50 seconds in. This is just her part of the cab dialogue. [His part is equally interesting but since I'm relating it to me, that's not important here...]
Céline: "For me it's better I don't romanticize things as much anymore. I was suffering so much all the time. I still have lots of dreams, but they're not in regard to my love life. It doesn't make me sad, it's just the way it is."
Jesse: "Is that why you're in a relationship with somebody who's never around?"
Céline: "Yes, obviously, I can't deal with the day to day life of a relationship. Yeah, we have, you know, this exciting time together and then he leaves and I miss him, but at least I'm not dying inside. When someone is always around me, I'm like suffocating!"
Jesse: "No, wait, you just said that you need to love and be loved..."
Céline: "Yeah, but when I do, it quickly makes me nauseous! It's a disaster... I mean, I'm really happy only when I'm on my own. Even being alone, it's better than sitting next to a lover and feeling lonely. It's not so easy for me to be a romantic. You start off that way, and after you've been screwed over a few times you, you forget about all your delusional ideas, and you just take what comes into your life. That's not even true, I haven't been screwed over, I've just had too many blah relationship. They weren't mean, they cared for me, but they were no real connection, or excitement."
And so watching the movies made me think back to the time, some 6 years back, when I started this blog. And I decided to write my love life (much of which has only been very subtly written about here) in a 5-act play - somewhat tongue-in-cheek!
Act 1: Marry handsome, intelligent man. Become someone you aren't in order to try to be/appear the perfect wife and mother, all the while failing miserably at making either party happy. Divorce (after 13 years).
Act 2: See light at the end of the tunnel. Project all hopes and dreams of love and happy-ever-after onto poor unsuspecting guy (who lives 2 hours away). Light is actually a runaway train that smashes headlong, very shortly after the light is first seen. Fall into deep depression.
Act 3: First online dating experience turns into worst nightmare. Military guy (who lives in WA but was in Iraq) convinces me I'm everything-he-wants-in-a-woman (flattering, ego-boosting, romantic-love-idealizing). Go on cross-country adventure. Think I fall in love. Meet a few more times... Intuit something is wrong, break up but really hoping it will work out in the end. He bolts (not what I expect). Months later, I learn he had several other "loves of his life" around the U.S. Complete shock and disillusionment. The beginning of the death of romanticism. The beginning of my blog.
Act 4: Three years of singledom pass. Meet passionate, intriguing, spiritual Aussie on boat while wrangling sharks. Halfway across the planet. (Anyone see a pattern?) His attention is flattering, and dreams of our potential shared adventures exciting. Date four months before realizing Aussies like to drink. A lot. A lot a lot.
Act 5: Meet guy in my city!!! Such a huge accomplishment I date him for 2.5 years. Break up 9,999 times. Get engaged. Break it off. Knew he wasn't right about 6 mo in. Why did I stay? You tell me. Finally end it for realsies....Lonely for the first time in a while.
Act 6: Perhaps: Meet knight in shining armor who will carry me off into the sunset!? One can dream.
It got me thinking, though, how (if at all) have I grown since that time in 2005 when my naive still-romantic-believe-in-love side started to die, or, perhaps, grow more realistic. I am in many ways a lot more cynical about love... but I have not yet given up on the idea completely. So here's what's changed in good ways (just off the top of my head):
- I am far, far, far more aware of how I idealize love, and how I need to be more realistic, while not sabotaging my chances at actual happiness. Balance is key.
- I am far, far, far more aware of the fact that trust should be not granted automatically, but needs to be built slowly.
- Generally speaking I am much happier and very content with the life I have lived the past several years. I've created an awesome, fun, adventurous career and life and nurtured several intimate friendships with women who I adore and respect. I am supporting myself, living my dream - really an amazing blessing!
- I feel like I am hearing from God again (no, I'm not crazy!) but feeling the gentle whispers in my heart guiding me to make right choices and to be gentle with myself when I make mistakes. And ...
- I actually have a lot more self-love than before. I don't mentally beat myself up when I make mistakes. I don't dwell on it and I forgive myself (as I know the Lord forgives me!)
So there ya go. A nice round of introspection as we turn the corner on Thanksgiving 2011. If I don't get a chance to blog tomorrow (today), may you all have a truly blessed Thanksgiving! As for me, I am staying home, my myself, researching an article. Lame but true. I'm skipping the holiday this year!