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Archive for September 12th, 2009

Honest art

September 12th, 2009 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, for various unimportant reasons, I watched 27 Dresses and Bridget Jones’s Diary, pretty much back to back. They’re “up” movies, “happy” movies, two movies I wouldn’t generally watch. So, I watched both, and they ended so well. A girl meets a guy, they don’t like each other at first, but then they realize that they’re so hopelessly in love. There are some funny moments. There’s a little valley of saddneess, a point where it looks like the two might not end up together. Of course, they do end up together, and they’re so happy, and they’re going to stay happy. At the end of movies like these, I always think to myself, “wow, that almost never happens.” These movies are plastic, fake. We all want that happy ending, we want it to be real. Maybe it is real, maybe it’s possible, but it’s definitely not so easy, and it’s absolutely not guaranteed.

It hit me that I can watch a movie like, Se7en, and when it’s over think to myself, “yes, that’s about right.” I think, “that’s fucked up, it’s awful, and it’s true.” Maybe my wife’s head won’t end up in a box, that almost never happens, but that feeling of loss happens to people everyday. Lovers die, lovers leave. People die alone, and regret things they almost had, or never had. Finding something amazing and keeping it for any length of time is so astonishingly difficult. The world, I think, is a really difficult, often shitty place. Finding misery, emptiness, that’s easy. Love, happiness, contentment, those things require so much struggle, and they’re absolutely not certain to anyone. Movies like Se7ven, in a bizarre sort of way, feel so much more honest to me. Se7en is a rather extreme look at the worst things people can experience, most people will never see that particular level of Hell, but to me the film’s basic message is very true. As bad as we can imagine the world, it can turn far worse. Life is difficult, with the capacity for so much pain, so much loss. As black as things can get, as pointless as it might feel to keep struggling, as easy as it might feel to quit, don’t. Not that things are certain to get better, not life will ever make sense. Don’t quit because there are good things in the world, and those things are worth the fight.

I’ve had my share of bad experiences, visited my own versions of Hell. I constantly question why I keep going. I’ve wanted to stop, but I don’t. For whatever reason, I don’t. Part of it, I think, is dark fiction, movies like Se7en. I often hear, “maybe if you don’t watch things that are so depressing, if you watched something funny for a change, you’ll feel better.” I get similar comments about music and books. The thing is, what I watch, and listen to, and read, isn’t depressing to me. Sad maybe, but to me, honest. I feel like my head isn’t being filled with candy-coated half-truths. Acknowledging so much ugliness, or pain, or sadness, helps me to appreciate the beauty that does exist, even when it seems so far away.  When a woman kisses me, or looks at me in that way that makes me forget how to type, I don’t take it for granted, because tomorrow something could take everything away. Art is a way to externalize, and at least try to understand, things that are awful and don’t make sense.

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A year ago tonight

September 12th, 2009 | Category: Life

A year ago tonight I was lying in bed next to Sara, which felt obviously familiar, and very odd. She told me we were through over two months before. I  spent the day on a plane bound for L.A. and the Emmys, and Ira Glass, and Sara. I remember telling people, “I don’t even want to go,” and that was half true. I knew that going would have its amazing moments, the Emmys, the parties, hanging out with Ira and the rest of the TAL crew. I wanted to see Sara, and I didn’t. I felt really nervous about seeing her, I didn’t know what to expect. Would it be awkward? Would she feel like a stranger, or worse, a friend who kind of remembered me? Showtime booked two rooms, I always have an entourage. Would she and I sleep in separate beds, separate rooms? Would I end up in a room with mom, and my friend, Celeste, and her fellow? “Because,” I said to myself, “that would be awesome.” I said to myself, sarcastically, “fuck it, I’ll just ask Ira if I can sleep on his sofa.” I didn’t know a lot of what would happen, but I knew that seeing her would probably end badly for me. Seeing Sara that night in that swanky hotel lobby, I felt like going right back to the car, or just dropping dead. Either way, either/or. That feeling did pass, and we fell asleep in the same bed, holding hands. It did feel good that night, but way in the back of my head I knew that being there with her probably wasn’t real contentment. It was more like morphine, a temporary fix. I felt so nice, so warm, and by the next night it would all fade.

To make things more complicated, there was someone back in Tampa, and I kept thinking about her. I hadn’t known her particularly long, just over a month, but it felt longer. I missed her, and I wondered if that was okay. I wondered if she missed me too. I woke up thinking about her, she followed me around more than I expected. Still, I’m not here to write about that morning, or the days after. I’m really not ready, even now. I’m not ready to go back and write the things I’ve never written here. I’m not strong enough, or dead enough, to write those things. I’m just here to write what happened a year ago, a year ago tonight.

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