Wherein our heroine* begins reflecting on pop culture and ends up being introspective

This blog may contain ideas about romance and relationships.

Exhibit A: A tender moment between two characters who have had their memories completely erased.

Exhibit B: A tender moment that is actually taking place in his head.

Recently I watched 500 Days of Summer, which was a tolerably cute movie mostly because it made fun of its own lovesick protagonist. It’s non-linear snapshot view of relationships reminded me a lot of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which was a favorite of mine for years. In Eternal Sunshine, the relationship is shown backwards (as the main characters have their memories erased), ending with a feeling of nostalgia left by the optimistic beginning stages of the relationship. 500 Days jumps back and forth between those 500 days, showing contrasts such as the little endearing characteristics or inside jokes that are charming at the beginning of a relationship, and irritating in its dying stages.

It is perhaps coincidental that the main characters in both movies were so similar – somewhat serious “average guy” paired with a whimsical, free-spirited girl. Although 500 Days of Summer has a more didactic message about theories of “true love” and how to reconcile those theories with inevitable heartbreak, I think both movies have a lot to say about how people view past relationships. Although I enjoyed the newer movie, I think it just didn’t seem as innovative since I had already seen (and cried bucketfuls over) the same concept in Eternal Sunshine.

Every failed relationship has its own story – how and why it began, what happened, the reasons it didn’t last, the way it ultimately crashed and burned (or ended peacefully – that does happen sometimes, right? I’ve heard rumors.) Hindsight may be 20/20 (maybe, maybe not) but it is rarely linear. I would guess that the average person views their past in a shuffle of memorable snapshots, rather than in chronological order. When it comes to remembering past relationships, you might pull out some picturesque snapshots and feel nostalgic and wistful, or you may dredge up the particularly nasty moments which lead to the “crazy ex” stories that are so popular.

This website is really just a compilation of those kinds of snapshots.

I can appreciate these movies (and that website) because personally I am a landmine of nostalgia. I think that as an adult I’ve learned quite a bit about how to make reasonable and wise decisions when it comes to relationships, and I think I’ve come a long way from the emotional trainwrecks that I’m sure some of you have witnessed in days of yore. However, I still suck at letting go, and still spend way too much looking into the rearview mirror when it comes to moving forward.

The other day I overheard a conversation between two girls at a coffeeshop, who were talking about relationships. One girl said something about an ex and her friend said: “Oh, I just try not to think about past boyfriends, because I’m mushy and romantic and it can get bad. It’s better to just focus on the negative things so you can just feel relieved that it’s over.”

Aha, I said to myself. No wonder I am terrible at this. I’m just not negative enough. (Who knew?!) I have some pretty terrible moments I could be focusing on, but I always tend to waste those opportunities for bitter closure and feeling nostalgic about the rest.

Dump out the boxes of photographs, sort them out, look at the whole picture, good and bad.

Then what? Burn it all?

Or is it better to just leave all of that untouched?

It’s tricky to try and sort these things out. One of my favorite people in the world compared a reliance on toxic attitudes towards past relationships to be like alcoholism, and I’m trying to treat it like that. Get rid of the emotional poison and self-doubt and harmful attitudes or habits that you inevitably pick up after enough relationship ups and downs. Focus on the positive parts: the wonderful people I have known in my life, and the things I have learned about myself and how to love people. I’m sure it would be a lot easier to just demonize everyone who ever hurt me, but I don’t think that’s what I’m going for.

Thank you for coming along on this trip through my brain-lint. I hope you wore your seatbelts.

*Please note the spelling and understand that there is nothing drug-related in this post… sorry to disappoint.

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2 Responses to Wherein our heroine* begins reflecting on pop culture and ends up being introspective

  1. chelsea says:

    i like this. i really want to see that movie. i hope your dinner was good.

  2. D.Cous. says:

    So… in the end, do you recommend the movie?

    Ok, I’m (half) joking. The bulk of the post wasn’t really about the movie, or so I think. I’ve often wondered about the same thing, how some people romanticize old relationships, and others demonize them to an almost comical extent. I somewhat suspect that the latter attitude might spring from not wanting to live with regret, but that’s only my opinion.

    As always, it’s great to see your writing. Thanks for keeping this blog going.

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