Watching 500 Days of Summer for the second time got me thinking about love, and what happens when love ends. In the film, Tom has a jilted and awkward conversation with his ex-love Summer after running into her after a long period apart. Their resulting conversation made me think about the artificial distance that two people who once loved each other create when they are forced to see one another again.
Tom and Summer’s exchange was filled with empty inquiries as to how the other person was doing, and what they had been up to after all that time. They spoke as if they were strangers. The truth is they had shared a bed together, had fights, watched movies together, held hands in IKEA together, and spent intimate moments together talking into the wee hours of the morning. To see the two of them conversing so politely and acting like they barely knew each other was all at once disconcerting and heartbreaking. How sad it must be to love someone so deeply that if that trust were to be broken, one would have to keep an artificial distance just to stay sane in that person’s presence.
What broke my heart even more was the scene where Tom discovers that Summer is married. In that scene, Tom revisits a part of the city where he and Summer used to idle away afternoons together. Summer happens to be there as well, sitting at another bench.
“I thought you would be here,” she says, as she greets him unexpectedly. Dressed sharply in a business coat and dress, Summer looks decidedly married. There is a definite air of unattainability in the way she looks at Tom. It is evident that she is happy with the way her life is going. While Tom is hurting and missing her, it is clear that Summer is merely curious about his life and simply wants to know that he is happy. She is no longer his. She is gone.
The pungent mix of emotion that comes from being so in love with someone who now belongs to someone else is more than hard to take. Seeing that person happy and having them tell you that they are now sure of something that they were never sure of with you must feel like a giant tear in your heart. The feeling of that lack of control – the mismatched desire for someone that almost makes it seem like life should recognize such strong love by making things fair – that someone you love with all your heart should love you back – is untrue.
Ex-lovers try to avoid that dangerous potency of love and that fire of emotion by creating artificial distance, but the falseness of a feigned and distant conversation is as revolting as it is sad. The truth of the matter is that every person who was once part of your life will always have been a part of your life, never to leave your timeline. I’m not going to say that everyone who has been in your life was there for a reason, because it simply isn’t true. Perhaps there wasn’t a reason. Perhaps you did not learn some lifechanging lesson by being with them. Like past seasons, however, they were all different, and they all happened.
Seasons change come and go. To pretend as though a season in your life never happened, however, is strange. The next time those rust colored leaves fall and you are reminded of the past, just think to yourself, “I remember.” This does not mean that you long for that period in your life to return, or that you wish it would never come back…you just remember. You accept it for what it was. You do not think about what you thought it could be, what you wished it would have been, or what you knew it could never be. It just was. I think there’s something kind of beautiful about that.