January 10, 2005

Love Stories

You rent the newest movie about young love and watch it with your current love. Sitting side by side throughout the movie, both of you remember your own young loves, and the far distant places where they were set. You remember how the air and light felt. It was like always being in a movie. Your facial muscles remember a kind of smile you used to have.

Throughout the rented movie, songs go through your head—not the songs in the movie, but the songs of your own young love, half a decade apart from the songs that are going through your current love’s head. By the end of the movie you are smiling so much in the old way, your current love gives you a strange smile back. You hold hands to keep each other here.

It’s not that you really want to go back to that time. Things are much saner now. What you would really like to do is talk to the young couple in the movie. You follow them through the sunlit, cobbled streets of their movie. Then you follow them through the streets of your own distant past. This is a movie that gets better every time you see it.

In your old movie they are walking down a flight of steps to a city park, beneath an ivied stone arch. You strain to hear what they are saying. Any little thing might tear them apart—a look in the wrong direction, a word that stirs false doubts. You sit at a neighboring table in an outdoor café and wait for a tactful moment to tell them how you once did all these same things. All the mistakes you made, you’ll warn them of, and their eyes will widen and they’ll go on in safety.

If only they could be real, you think, all the air and light around you would be different, and you too would be different.