Found a DVD copy of Linklater’s “Before Sunrise”. Watched it the other night and fell in love again.
Takes me back to the summer of ’95. College. My friend Pam called me up one night (along with my girlfriend-at-the-time Donna) to come over to hang out, have snacks, and watch this movie. It was always good to hang out with Pam; among my friends, she was one of the few who had the light on inside, which was endearing and fascinating.
As we watched the movie unfold, I fell in love. I — along with every 20-something boy who watched that film — wanted to go to Europe, ride the Eurail, and unexpectedly find someone special. I was certain of it (yeah, I was 23, full of bright ideas and misguided dreams, so spare me the headshaking).
What the movie did was put me into a space outside myself, looking in, and it beamed a bright light on just where I was at that moment: sitting in a house with a friend that I adored, with my actual girlfriend sitting in front of me leaning back against my legs, and me on the couch, transfixed by a gorgeous French actress and an all-American everyman actor having a fictional romance in a foreign land. The conversation they had on screen was the end product of months of dreaming, thinking, discussing, planning, writing, and distilling every idea down into 100 minutes of finely-crafted dialogue. Actual conversations, especially among the newly-met, will never, ever reach that level of sophistication or interest because we don’t have the luxury of a creative team doing all the planning beforehand; we must talk in real-time by the power of our own mettle. Real conversations pale in comparison.
But there I was, feeling uncomfortable in the sudden recognition of the little hungers pulling inside of me. I felt that no matter which direction won the tug-of-war, there would be new experiences and new possibilities, yes, and that I would be in the middle of wherever I happened to move into (what I eventually went with was none of those directions, which is how I got to where I am now). But I felt a bit disingenuous and shameful, like I had a dirty little secret, that I should be so bold to consider anything other than staying with the one I was with. The struggle between going steady and being ready is one I am typically not willing to fight.
This serves to highlight a maleficent part of my modus operandi, which is to lay low, not be too hasty in making a decision, not being quick to move, because some day, by god, I just might miss out on whatever great thing/person/event I will be missing out on if I made the move too soon. The untold futures! The doors closed once entered! The lost chances!
To that end, I’m glad Linklater went on to make “Before Sunset”, which kind of discusses the ugly back end of missed opportunities. Life has to go on; if you don’t make the moves, it will move for you (and will likely do it without you) in ways you may not find profitable. I’m old enough to look back, and it’s sobering to count the unused years.
So much squandered potential; is there enough left?