The Eternal Sunshine of Love

I just need to think of some subject I have … four or five thousand words about in me. Immediately. Or I could give up on BitPass and post all my short stories here for a whopping ~13k word bonus. Except I really do think my stories have value. Go! Read them! They’re only a dime each! You lose dimes between the cushions of your couch and forget about them! You pay almost a dime in tax on every dollar you spend! You can afford it!

I suppose I could post about The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind… Everyone else has by now, I should join the pack. Except my post is probably more “sorry for myself” than theirs were. Let’s take a look:


In case you haven’t yet seen any commercials for (or the entire film) The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it tells the story of two people who were in a relationship for two years, broke up after a downward slide, and one of them had a memory-erasing procedure done that removed all her memories of him from her mind. He finds out about it and decides to have the same thing done to himself, removing all his memories of her and their relationship from his mind. But the crux of it is that they really did love each other. So much so that during the procedure he fights it as much as he can, trying to save even a single memory of her. So much so that their love, which doesn’t exists in our memories but someplace deeper, is stronger than this mind-erasing procedure.

There are a couple of “surprises” at the end, strange changes that … I don’t exactly want to give away. Some are more obvious than others. Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about.

See, watching this movie, I believed they loved each other. I seem to believe in love anyway. In that silly idea that real love can overcome any obstacle, even memory-loss, and this movie really played to that part of me. I knew it would. I’ve wanted to own it on DVD since before the first trailer I ever saw for it finished running. But when I walked out of the theatre after watching it, it wasn’t all happiness and sunshine and not just because of the (typical for a Kaufman screenplay) not-entirely-upbeat ending.

See, this movie reminded me of the transformative power of love. The effect it can have on your life, not just for pain at the end, but for all the moments of joy and happiness and contentment that occur between meeting and leaving. The way love transcends circumstance and permanently binds two lives together. It reminded me of the times I’ve loved, but worse it reminded me of all thime times I’ve loved and not been loved in return.

You see, the happiest parts of The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, to me, were only possible because they both loved each other. If he were the only one to love, or her, it wouldn’t have meant as much, couldn’t have worked out the same.

And that’s just the thing that seems to have been missing, not just from my life as it is these days in my long-term singledom, but when I was in relationships with various people, in love with various people, and … most of them weren’t in love with me. And my love, a love they could not match, made them feel like we oughtn’t be together. I was so sure we should and they … weren’t as sure … and because of that disparity, their position felt more like we shouldn’t be together, and then suddenly, in each case, we weren’t.

There wasn’t distrust, suspicion of cheating, boredom and hundreds of little details (you know, the kind that seem so cute at first but grow wearisome after years together?) wedging us apart… well, some of those things once. But for the most part it was that I loved and they didn’t love.

And if this procedure was available I would try it. I would erase all those people I’d loved, all those people I still love, somehere in there… All those people… There’s music playing on my computer right now and … well there’s something wrong with the randomizer or something because the last four or five songs have reminded me strongly of the one that loved me back. But there are things, smells, books, phrases, looks, that remind me of the people I’ve loved who wouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t admit they loved me back. The people who I haven’t seen in years, may not see again, and almost certainly will never be loved by, or be in a relationship with. I’d erase them all. Remove them completely. What good are they doing me?

And it’s not like the cases shown in the movie where people are driven suddenly, in the heat of emotion or loss, to erase the memories of a loved one. I haven’t seen the most recent of these people in years. I’m not in the heat of passion or emotion. I’m simply long-suffering. And more often than not, I wish it would stop.

I don’t have a stack of “good times” memories to look back on fondly. My most successful relationships haven’t been about always being together, haven’t involved the sort of constant contact that creates those beautiful little memories. Even the relationships I had where there was a lot of contact and time together (relatively) don’t seem to have produced a lot of really good memories for me. A moment here, a glimpse there, a moment where there wasn’t tension or parents watching or other distractions that dominated my memory… but I couldn’t put together two hours about any one of my relationships (save the one where she loved me back and I fucked it up, which I am now working on outlining as a complete novel) being erased memory by memory. Maybe if I were getting a dozen relationships erased I might have enough discrete memories that it would fill 90 minutes. Something must be wrong with me… or my memory.

Maybe the procedure would end up bringing back a whole series of beautiful moments I’d forgotten, by association. Or maybe it would make me feel worse and worse for the duration, as I saw everything I did with the resolution of hindsight and gained experience and wisdom and knew what I should have done differently in every situation, what would have made each memory a good one instead of a mediocre or bad one. What might have made each relationship last a little longer…. and then I’d wake up and it would all be gone.

And would I be better off? And I suppose that’s the question we’re supposed to ask ourselves when we see this movie; would we be better off if we didn’t remember relationships we’d lost?

I think I would. And people like me (Hah!), too. People who can’t stop remembering the people they cared about, even if the only memories they seem to have are brief or not very good. People who, years later, are still thinking about what they could have done differently, how they could have been a better boyfriend or fiancee or whatever. Is it all holding me back? Perhaps.

But as foggy and … mostly-missing as my memory is anyway, what would I be missing by losing a few more? Perhaps I’d only be losing the ability to make long, awful posts like this one, where I babble on and on about my lost loves still tormenting me from my memories. Where I look at a reasonably romantic and positive look at relationships and the possibilities of love on film and I find myself instead bogged down by my own inability to find reciprocal love, by my own interest in having my memories of relationships erased despite the message of the movie, that I shouldn’t want that.

People keep saying “clever” things about this movie like “It isn’t Eternal OR Spotless, but I like it…” and reviewers are saying that they don’t like the way Michael Gondry treated Charlie Kaufman’s script, that the two creative styles clashed and took away from the movie… but it works for me. The visual style is excellent, as far as I’m concerned. I’ll probably like it even more the next time I see it, and the next. I liked the pacing. I even liked re-watching certain sequences I’d already seen, and wished there had been more of that, to a certain extent. The acting from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet was … good enough; convincing of real love, and that’s the point, for me. If the movie had been perfect in every other way but didn’t convince me they were in love, it would have been a failure.

Then again, I’m a sucker for love. I probably see it where there’s only a glimpse, only a flicker. Perhaps that’s been my problem; I see a glimpse or a flicker of love within me for someone and I encourage it. I do what I can to help it to grow, and to make it contagious. Maybe I should instead be fighting or resisting or … ignoring love. Maybe I shouldn’t be going into relationships hoping for love.

Except I do. I do hope for love. I hope for love and happiness and I hope for a wealth of good memories, the kind I would never wish myself to be rid of. And I have faith in love. Perhaps too much faith. Unmatched faith, so far. That love is enough. That love can be reciprocated and can grow and can bring people together despite circumstance and distance and even significant differences in opinion on a variety of topics. That love is worth feeling, worth hoping for. I believe in love. I hope for love.

It’s hard for me to imagine two people accepting anything less. Or one person.

It’s hard for me to believe in all the people out there who don’t believe in love at all, who don’t want to fall in love, who would reject it if they did. It’s hard for me to believe that there are so many people out there out of touch with their own hearts. I want to believe everyone out there is capable of the sort of unending, unconditional love that was shared and threatened and overcame in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I want to believe that I’ll be able to find that sort of love for myself.

Even if it doesn’t last forever. Even if there’s mistrust and every little detail of the person I love, who loves me, becomes an annoyance and a bother. Even if we are driven apart in heated emotion and passion. At least there will have been love.

I love love.

I am passionate about being passionate about someone. I am passionate about love. I want companionship, sure, but I want love more. I might be content with knowing there was someone out there who was my “girlfriend”, who was romantically involved with me and only me. But I would always hope for more. Hope for love. Hope that I and she both fell in love with each other. Hope that there was passion. Monogamy is important to me. I have seen that it is better-suited to me than “open” relationships or polyamoury. But love. Oh, love. If I could have love and monogamy, what a thing that would be. And if it lasted, and if there were good memories come from it… what a thing. What a mark on my life.

I loved someone who loved me in return once. I know it for sure. The other times I loved … all is in question. But the once; it was definitely love. Love reciprocated. And while the others, the other relationships and attempts at relationships, while they all fade away gradually into the blur of my memories, this one, this reciprocated love, it still shines out. It’s still clear… or as clear as it ever was, ever could be, since it was created in emotion. I’ve tried to give her up, but the more I give up everyone else I ever wanted, ever loved, the more I can’t forget her.

It’s possible that even if every memory I have of her were erased from my memory completely that I would still love her. Would be frustrated by my inability to remember who it was I loved. The love would still be there. And it might be worse to live without the memory and with the love, lost, than to be tortured daily by the memory of the one I loved, who loved me, and who I lost anyway. Who I drove away. It might be worse.


But that’s about that. I’ve got to go to bible study now. Would you believe that one of the reasons I don’t go to church is because of memories of lost love? Not the obvious one, whose church I actually attended, but the one who loved me back and who began attending a church of my family’s denomination simply because she loved me and knew it was what I did. I never asked her to, she just started going and let me know about it. That sort of thing happening with her always had a strong impact on me; made me realize the effect I had on her, even when I didn’t know it. Made me realize all the little things I did differently, not because she’d asked me to but because I paid attention to her, loved her, and wanted to to right by her.

And all the ways I went wrong, did wrong, because … I don’t know. Maybe I am an asshole. Or thoughtless, anyway. I try not to be, now. I know what it can cost. It cost me her love.

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.

2 thoughts on “The Eternal Sunshine of Love”

  1. Well Teel you were right, it was more of an “I feel sorry for myself” post, but you were totally wrong I think about the fact that no one else felt that. We all did, we just didn’t write about it. At least you’re honest, eh?

  2. Well Teel you were right, it was more of an “I feel sorry for myself” post, but you were totally wrong I think about the fact that no one else felt that. We all did, we just didn’t write about it. At least you’re honest, eh?

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