Saturday, November 28, 2009

I want to be my me.

I watched this movie tonight, 500 Days of Summer. I'm going to tell you kind of a lot about it. So, if you're thinking that you really want to see it and don't like having things spoiled for you then you should probably stop reading somewhere about now-ish. You can leave your window open, go rent the movie. Don't forget the goobers and the take out. I'll still be here when you get back. That's fine. It's probably best this way, anyway, that way you'll know what I'm talking about most of the time and you can get your brain set with your opinions and what not.

But for those of you who are going to keep reading, then I guess you'll have to deal with some spoilers. It's the story, as the trailer states, of Boy Meets Girl. But where the trailer leaves off and as the title would even imply, it's obviously not one with an ending where boy and girl walk off into the sunset hand in hand. It's 500 days of Summer. It's a girl named Summer and obviously these two know one another for, what, a year and a half? A rough rounding, that is.

Tom has been looking for the one until he found her, she hasn't been looking for anyone. Early we get the understanding that she doesn't believe in true love. In bed at an IKEA she tells him that she's not looking for anything serious. He says he's cool with that. Before they leave the living room section, she holds his hand and walks with her head on his shoulder. Not long after that they're in bed in a much less public venue.

Here's my favorite thing about the film: the chronology. It runs through the course of the relationship the same way that our brains do. It gives us a scene from day 1, when they met. Then it gives us a scene from, say, day 49 with that day in the park when he drew a city scape on her arm, then shoot back to day 27 with the glorious/ dangerous shower sex--and weren't those the favorite days?

Shoot to day 279 or something like that, when things start to go down hill and they get in a fight and she says, "Look, Tom, we're just friends." And he sets her straight with the fact that she's not the only one who gets to make that decision and that with all they've been up to, they're a couple, goddammit. And he leaves. She shows up at his apartment a few hours later with sexy, wet, walking-in-the-rain hair and an overdue apology. Go back to one of the early days when she first sneaked up on him in the copy room at work and suddenly we only remember the happy times again.

But officially and inevitably it ends and Tom is worthless. Walking to the corner store in a bathrobe buying whisky and Twinkies kind of worthless.

At this point, the audience chooses a villain. My movie watching companions all did, anyway. One would say that she was a heartless bitch who was just using him. Some say she led him on. Some say there were mixed signals. Another said that he was a bum, a schmuck and should get on with his days and over with his self-indulgent, broken hearted bullshit. Hearts break. Bad things happen. We live through them.

I couldn't pick a favorite. I couldn't pick a villain and I couldn't pick a hero. Sure, I sympathized with him because I've been there and no one wants to see a broken heart. But let's be honest, in the first few days she said "I don't want to be anyone's girlfriend. I don't like the idea of being anyone's anything." She spelled it out in the first place. My paraphrased version says, Don't get your hopes up. I can't promise I'll be here every morning when you wake up. She was fair from the beginning.

I don't want to be anyone's anything. I'm afraid to tell all of them that while I don't know which one's worse, I think I'm Zooey in this movie. I get her--she says most of what I want to say. It's not that easy though because I'm him too, sometimes. My heart has hurt so heavy at times that it took a day or two to get my shit together. There is one chapter in my life story that reads little more than "She drank vodka and cranberry out of the same Styrofoam cup for four consecutive days."

(It's never been worse than that one time, though. That was one four-day stint 5 years ago and I think we're all a little happy that we've all moved on.)

But there seems to be the underlying sentiment that it's all well and good that she doesn't want to be anyone's girlfriend but she forfeits all that extra stuff, too. And maybe in this case she should have. Maybe knowing how in love with her he was from the get go--Tom shouldn't have been the place to go for it. But does a girl who doesn't want a label have to be the girl who doesn't get whimsical dates to IKEA and doesn't get to hear wonderful things and doesn't have to surrender herself from time to time knowing that she owes him an apology? I don't know.

I don't want to be anyone's anything. I want to be my me. I know that I was created for more than solitude and it would be nice to be my me next to someone else who was his him--but that's muddling the ultimate point.

I am both of these people all at once and my brain has been in a dilemma since somewhere around the beginning of June. There's a part of me that just knows the kind of girl I am. But then there's the part of me that knows what I always thought I wanted to be. I'm trying to marry these people but there's a lot of pull and a lot of push and I think it's oil and water.

In the end, let's be honest, neither of them would have been able to get all of what they were looking for and remained together. Would you rather see a compromise? I wouldn't have. I prefer a broken heart to a compromised one. Don't get me wrong, though, I don't think that means that plans never change. But no one's got a right to hang on the hope that the other person leaves what they want on the side of the road.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This Afternoon's Minor Distraction

I'm standing there, absently wiping the green counter top and staring out the window, wondering about what it would be like if I really did get this job that I applied for. Because I want it--I want it real bad. I'm thinking about what it would be like to have a job where advancement was a possibility. I'm thinking about what it would be like to have one of those jobs that I wasn't kind of embarrassed of. And in the middle of the daydreaming, a man approaches me.

He came in on a mission. He didn't look at the menu, he deflected my offer for fudge. He looked straight at me and leaned his arms on the glass counter top. I pointed at the sign that said not to lean, he read it but didn't get up. I think maybe he didn't realize that's what he was doing. "I'm on a fishing trip--of sorts." I surveyed his scene. He sort of looked like he might be going fishing, it was only forty degrees outside though and I couldn't imagine that would be all that much fun. He wore a short sleeved plaid shirt with long underwear underneath, he had grey whiskers and hair that looked like it was nice when he left the house but by mid-afternoon, it was completely out of its initial place.

"Oh, alright," I said, looking at him with marginal suspicion. "Do you want a sandwich or something?"
"Fifteen years ago I was walking behind the stores along this block. There was this gorgeous pickup truck, it was painted bright yellow and there was the most beautiful music playing from it."
"Okay." I smiled, anxious to hear where he was going with this and pleased that he didn't need me to wash my hands and stuff them into plastic lunch-lady gloves.
He smiled back at me and squinted his eyes in resignation.
"But I suppose you don't know anything about fifteen years ago."
"No, sir. I'm sorry. I was... eleven, fifteen years ago."
"Oh." He sounded disappointed and surveyed the scene.
"But, you know, next door there's a florist. He's much older than me, his name is Bob and he wears Hawaiian shirts. He's been here for years and years. I'd say that if anyone knows anything about that, it'd be Bob."
"Bob, you say? Right next door?"
"To your left."
"Thank'y ma'am." He tipped his invisible hat. Kind of a Jimmy Stewart move, on his part.

About six minutes later, I saw him leave the florist and walk across the street, get in his own pickup truck and leave. This didn't surprise me. He had very little to go on.

And here it is, seven hours later and I can't get it out of my head. What the hell was that about?