The first time I watched "Little Black Book", I was peeved. I mean, what– what the hell kind of ending was that? No! Girl gets boy! Always! That’s why it’s a *movie*! I don’t want real life, dammit. Girl does NOT dump boy (who loves Girl) and tell him that he belongs with his ex.
Three years later and I’m still obsessing over this movie. It’s really not that good of a movie and parts of it are painful (much like "Autumn in New York"! Which I own! And paid, like, full retail price for it! Willingly!), but… I don’t know. There’s just something moving about the scene in the end, when Brittany Murphy’s character gives her big speech and does what she knows is best even though it means she sort of gets the shaft– it’s relatable in a painfully honest way. There are countless movies that have those happy little love scenes that make my insides all gooey because, oh, I remember those moments and those feelings and they were good; there are few movies that have those really difficult scenes where someone has to muster up the courage to say, "Hey. This isn’t working out. I love you, and it’s because I love you that I’m telling you I think this needs to end, and I’m so, so sorry and it’s killing me to say this, but I can’t be with you anymore."
A few days ago, I finally watched "The Break Up". And, again, the ending frustrated me to no end. They were so happy to see each other again! Why didn’t the movie show them getting back together? He’d changed! He was a changed man! He was the changed man she wanted him to be! But no; camera shows her walking away, then credits. What. The. Crap.
I was so mad. I was so, so mad. The next day, I was still mad. And then the day after that, it started to sink in that probably a good percentage of why I couldn’t accept the movie’s damned storyline was because I related too much to it. When she tells him, after he’s finally opened up to her and told her he’ll do anything for her, that she just doesn’t think she can do it anymore, that she just doesn’t have anything left? God, have I known that feeling– the giving and the receiving.
But– the ending, too– I’ve known even that. The happenstance running into each other, the startled "Hi!", followed by the intensely sincere "Wow! It’s been so long. How are you? You look fantastic!" and ending with "We should definitely catch up more sometime." Except– and this truth makes my heart twinge, just a little– that "sometime" almost never happens. You’ve both mended the rips that the separation caused, learned new habits and developed new patterns, new lives. There will be no reconciliation. And… that’s okay. That’s normal. You know? Not every love is the only one, the last one. What they did is what we– what most of us– do. We heal, we learn, we grow, we move on. We find others.
Here is another truth: sometimes, when you do run into that other person randomly, and they do look fantastic and it has been so long– sometimes, you start remembering all the reasons you fell for that person in the first place. You remember mornings together and sunny afternoons spent outside holding hands, you remember how perfectly their face fit inside your hands. But after those initial thrills of remembrance have faded some– you remember, too, why it ended. There were reasons for why it ended, and sometimes, a lot of times, those reasons aren’t reasons that can be nullified by time.
And then I think of "Eternal Sunshine" and *that* ending, how Clem argues that it’s pointless for them to try and be together again because they both know how it’s going to end and the ending isn’t pretty, how they’re just going to get sick of each other– and Joel just half-smiles and says: "Okay." I adore that. It makes me wonder if I would say "okay" too, and… I think I would. Because even knowing things will be crap at the end of it all– knowing all the good moments that will come in the meantime would make it all worthwhile. Walks on the beach, trips to Lowe’s in the pouring rain, falling asleep in the front seat listening to U2’s "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb", hoofing it– slightly drunk– from south MB to north PB: I have known the heights of happiness in the hands of another, and maybe that happiness came at a price, but it’s a price I was glad to pay then– and will be glad to pay again.