Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Hollywood Ending. Or, Moving Beyond.

     I am blessed by many things in life and one of those things is that I live in an amazing apartment with a family I love in a gorgeous townhouse with a lovely garden in NYC from where I am writing this post. It is a late Sunday evening and the slightest of raindrops are falling on my shoulders (and hopefully not into my keyboard but I need a new computer anyway) and the sky is tinted orange and it's a perfect place to hear and smell and see and wonder. I have been blessed in this project this summer and all the love it has brought me. Even if it is not the kind of love I have expected. Even if that kind of love may not ever happen. Even if I feel pressure to find, but want to cry because I may not have, the Hollywood ending.

      Confession: I just got back from watching Eat, Pray, Love.

     Now before you go all hipster new york judgemental on me I would like to note that the majority of my movie money is spent on documentaries and clever indie films like Breaking Upward and The Lottery but every now and then I get sucked into a chick flick. And now I am terrified.

     I don't think I am going to find love. At least not this summer. Everyone keeps reminding me that it is already mid-August and states confused that I "haven't found someone yet" and that I "only have ten dates left" (I did two last week, I'll catch you up soon, promise) and I know that everyone so badly, myself included, wants me to have this perfect hollywood ending where I ride off on a boat or a plane or the staten island ferry with a wonderful feminist 28 year old man who speaks fluent spanish and runs his own NGO empowering youth in NYC and who doesn't mind I'm the girl from the New York Times article who is silly about her life and deadly serious about her job and we kiss and everyone in the theater's eyes well with tears.

     Sort of the opposite of what this project was meant for has started to happen, I have begun to take the pressure off the dates to the extent that there isn't any pressure left at all. On Tuesday I went out with Mark who, I could tell, viewed the date as a fun idea but not something that would equal long lasting love, I am sure, in part, because he was with the key girl. This prompted me to go on a date with Chris and not even do the key experiement at all and ended up analyzing and talking about other people dating so much that he told me I seemed "detached" from the whole process. Even yesterday, when I took myself on date number fourteen, I found myself flirting with cute travelers from Germany and giving out my number to a could-have-been Jersey Shore member from Brooklyn because of the story it all creates. And while I am focused on this story I am not actually creating my own. And I blame Hollywood for a lot of that.

     When I was younger and in a relationship with Jared, the love of my teenage life, I used to imagine he would be hiding behind my door with roses when I got home on a really bad day. In my head, "Matt", my ex with whom I royally screwed things up years ago, would have realized by now what I mean to him and how I've changed and I'll find him on my front stoop and we'll share a passionate kiss, preferably in the rain, before he says he's loved me all along. According to the Rom-Com's, Cheese guy from the deli would have already slided some adorable yet quirky token through my mailslot in order to ask me out and, by now, I should have met at LEAST seven soulmates who I should be trying to choose from.

     In Eat Pray Love Liz, now played by Julia Roberts, finds her love in Indonesia and she is "rescued" in a sense from her year of unbalance, her time without sex, her lack of love. I remember being in Bali over two years ago and running tipsy on the beach with a dear though still relationship undefined friend of mine and his friend with whom I had shared some romantic connection. We stripped down to our bathing suits, avoiding fisihing lines and guided by the moonlight and dove into the warm welcoming water.  I remember swimming out until the water was at my neck, holding my breath, and sinking my knees to the sand. I allowed the waves to crash over me as my body went limp, tumbling and tossing in the waves, feeling like jello pudding moving through the sea.

       I was, I believe, waiting for someone to come to my rescue.

      Not that I was actually in any danger (I used to be a lifeguard after all) but something made me believe that being weak and vulnerable and sad was what made men fall in love with you. Maybe it's because men in my life have been drawn to my darker side, maybe I've had too many breakups after I kicked a guys ass skiing down a mountain or in my career, or on a stupid test in fifth grade (that's for you Ian!) but I always thought that if I just opened myself more, just let them see how much I needed them, just became a little more sad, my love would appear and come, "to my rescue." In Eat Pray Love, the movie, Liz/Julia gets sideswiped by her man, yes, but he later shows up with her shoes after a near-encounter with an STD from another guy. We are told that the unbalance of love leads to the balance of life and this new man is what brings it to her. Or, as my friend Suraj who was dragged to the film with his girlfriend and was complaining about it's length put it,

     "We get it, in order to get over a guy you fall in love with another one."

      I love a good romance as much as the next girl and my DVD collection is stored with all the classics, and I know I am not saying anything new but that I know I need to let go. It's a lovely fantasy but it's not for me. I think there is a great chance, much to the dismay of the artist Paul who told me he felt I'd find love, and my readers who are rooting for me, and, if I am to be honest, my very own heart. And I have to admit that even as I am writing this my brain is ticking with "oooo! but now if you let go of it, you'll definitely find it soon!" (Kantian in it's own way but I doubtfully effective in the real world) which is, of course, a hollywood trope (see He's Just Not That Into You for a most recent example).

      I just want to be more PRESENT in my life and the dates and the moments. I am so present with every seashell, every key hole, every surprise I find and yet, oddly, with the men I've detached myself. If I don't fall in love at first sight with birds tweeting and a musical number (see Enchanted) I tell myself this must not be it and enjoy my own adventure, happy to have a partner in crime, but waiting until the next guy comes along because, after all I'm looking for George Clooney and this is not it. But what if I let go of it all? What if I welcome in the possibility that the summer may just be one of fun and not that of love? What if I remove the ideal of some perfect hollywood ending, the perfect hollywood guy, my somehow turning into the, as my ex "Matt" put it, the "cute quirky girl from a romantic comedy."

     I'm just me and this is my story and I'm going to love it even if it isn't what Hollywood had in mind.

     The rain has stopped falling and my laptop is, thankfully, still humming away. My chamomile/mint tea has begun to cool and the neighbors windows above mine are darkening as lights and eyes close. I'm pulling on a sweatshirt to ward off the breeze from my skin but welcoming it weave through my hair and soon I too will go to sleep. And for once, I'm not going to picture any dream I hope to have. This time, I'm going to be happy and open with what comes along.




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