I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind yesterday.
A TEDx talk I chanced upon while scouring a website the day before had a woman describing a real-life neurobiological method not entirely unlike that described in the movie which was used to map out the regions in her brain that lit up in response to possible limerence, and about some conditioning she underwent to literally fall out of love. When she mentioned the movie in passing, I wondered about watching it sometime soon, but soon forgot about it. But when I opened Netflix yesterday evening, the movie was tagged on my home screen as a new addition. It would seem multi-million dollar companies know thou better than thou knowest thyself. In any case, I took as a sign and started watching it.
I remembered clearly the first time I watched the movie although the premise and storyline remained somewhat vague; it is almost uncanny why I should attach so much importance to such a random moment in my past. This was some time in 2009. I skipped through major portions of it, proclaimed my disinterest and largely scoffed at anyone who talked about it being a good film. The re-watch was testimony of how you can look at the exact same thing at various time-points in your life and have entirely different reactions.
I saw myself on screen. The person who changed her hair to cope with problems. The impulsive decisions. The spurts of crying. ‘A fucked up girl looking for her own piece of mind’.
I saw my relationship. How she was with the nicest person she had ever been with, and yet felt trapped because he gave her a lecture about drinking and driving around with a friend at 2 AM. How she found him boring, and he found her irresponsible.
I knew it was a movie about relationships and heartbreak, and I did have vague memories of some scenes, but the one thing caught me unawares was the ending.
He says it’s okay, and they hug.
As credits roll, I feel tears at the corners of my eyes, a faint trickle, and then the gasps and the uncontrollable outburst. Breathing becomes difficult, my vision blurs and I press my face against the pillow and weep for an eternity.
When MB gets home I tell him I wanted to watch a movie with him. Round two. As the credits roll, I set the phone aside and lean against his chest.
That’s me, I say.
He’s skeptical as usual. But he tries to accommodate my fancies and smiles anyway. Nicest guy I’ve ever been with.
This is how I am, I say. Impulsive. Feeling trapped. Do you remember how I colored my hair after we broke up? You see?
I feel like a child, trying to make a futile point. Silence falls.
It’s okay, he says. We hug.