My wife and I were in a long-distance relationship for over three years. 1,200 chest pain inducing kilometers. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. One of ‘our’ movies, is the movie ‘Like crazy’. An English girl and an American boy fall in love. Some visa violation happens. The girl can’t travel to the US anymore. Ok, so plot-wise I must say that the boy could fairly easily just move to England instead, but in order to have a story, we are told that he can’t because he’s got a lot of business in the US. Fine, we’ll ignore that, because if he wanted to move he could. It’s not the plot that makes you watch this movie anyway. It’s the chemistry between the characters. Most of the dialogue is improvised by the way, which makes the interactions between the two incredibly realistic. Two top notch actors for sure.
It’s never explained why the two are attracted to each other. It just happens. We don’t get lengthy and flowery declarations of love. The two are drawn to each other, that’s all we see. My wife always says that you don’t love someone if you can say exactly why you love them. Hmmm….
It’s not their careers. She’s a writer, he’s a carpenter. It’s not their religious beliefs. We never hear a word about those. It’s not their political convictions. There’s almost nothing on that either. It’s not because they love travelling back and forth so much. They’re just attracted. And from that attraction follow certain mutual rituals they adapt later. They start tasting whiskey for example. There’s no economic drive behind it either, they don’t team up as business partners. It’s simply never explained where the attraction comes from. How akin to real life, isn’t it? The only clue we have is that they are both easy on the eye, obviously. So is that it then? Later they both have other relationships with people who are also pretty. Those relationship don’t last though. They keep being drawn back together. What is it? Is the pull of the challenge? The challenge of bridging an ocean? I know from experience that bridging a geographical gap certainly gives you a thing to do. But wouldn’t all that hassle drive a weakly linked couple apart?
They have a lot of sex, we assume. But they have lots of sex with other people as well. It’s not mere familiarity either, because they get quite familiar with other people as well. We can’t sniff them out because they are movie characters, but perhaps it’s in their scent that hints at an excellent DNA match? Perhaps it’s only about a certain jaw line, a certain walk, a certain way they flick their hair when they are nervous. Some call that chemistry, a spark or just ‘something’.
And is that spark enough for the long haul? I’ve had sparks with some women to conflagrate medium sized towns… We didn’t stay together, and we broke up when the fire was still raging. What caused those breakups? Immaturity? Conflicting values? Poor communication? Rash decisions in a sauce of egotism and vanity? Curiosity? Greed? Putting our own needs first? Practical matters? A subtle willingness to experience emotional pain to dramatize one’s life?? To have something to write about???
What made my wife and I stay together in much more challenging circumstance than in previous relationships? What attracted me to her in the first place? It’s silly but it was in the way she moved, her casual shoes with legs made for high heels, a certain quiet composure, alternated with sudden burst of almost child-like enthusiasm and vitality. Mainly though something in her face, and something about her figure, something about her voice. I’ve come to like her values, but there are many women with her values. Not her interest in books, it helps, but there are women out there who can rave about books even more than she does. Not her almost neurotically clean habits, those get annoying at times. It’s something about the way she looks when she leaves for work in the morning. It’s something about the way she waves at me when she comes back and I’m waiting for her on the balcony. It’s something about the way she rolls the covers half way across her face when she sleeps. While I’m writing this I have this song on repeat:
It’s nothing philosophical. There’s nothing deep about it. ‘Here she comes now. She looks so beautiful.’ There’s nothing more to it than that.
I mean, my wife pushes me to be a better person, sure. She calls me out on my bullshit. She comes home and shows me pens she’s bought for me. She looks up a shorter way to work for me. She hides little notes all through our appartment with sweet messages and encouragements. She makes sure our wedding goes smoothly, stripping down the parts about a wedding that I find annoying to the bare minimum. Other girlfriends have done awfully nice things for me as well. I didn’t stay and I was grateful, yet felt just a little more guilty for breaking up with them regardless. Or vice versa, when they broke up with me.
If there wasn’t ‘something’ in the way she teased me in those first stage of ‘courting’, we wouldn’t be here now. What was it? The way here cheek bones call me when she’s emphasized them with just the right dab of make-up? A combination of austerity about her bearing, an intelligent fire in her eyes, a certain regal untouchableness about her walk? A similiarity to past loves I’m not aware of? Why was a hint of austerity attractive to me? The catholic nun in a miniskirt fantasy? The challenge of breaking through an invisible chastity belt? Do men mainly want what is just out of our reach? Did a combination of factors give me the feeling that she was just out of reach, that I could just, maybe, with enough effort, grab hold of her? Do we not want to be a member of club that want to recognize our membership? But she has accepted me as a member, and I’m still here, and even though I miss the incomparable thrill of the hunt, I feel a nagging and gaping emptiness and an itching anticipation if we are apart for more than one day, sometimes even as little as six hours or so.
There is no explanation. Just like in Like Crazy, it just is. And sure, we know a lot about communication, and sure we both read a lot of books on psychology, sure we work on our relatonship, but I wouldn’t have even a flicker of motivation to do so, if the ‘something’ wasn’t there. Listen to ‘Something’ by The Beatles:
Oh, and the movie is on YouTube