Thursday, aug. 28, 2008 | 0 comments
The other night I rewatched Lost in Translation and was struck anew with my love for Sophia’s way with the little things. This time, it was something that Scarlett said in the middle of a relationship freakout in a call home to a friend. So she’s tearfully unloading about how she’d gone to see some chanting monks and was all disturbed because the experience didn’t make her feeling anything. Then, onto her bonfire of complaints, she tosses in this tiny camel-breaking straw about how her husband has “started wearing hair products.” I just love that! It’s such a weird whatever kind of non-issue, but it’s the exact sort of small fact that would trigger a realization that the person you’re with is different than what you’d imagined or hoped or planned on.
Recently I spent some high-quality time with a friend who’s going through a not so awesome divorce, and I asked her if and when she first knew that it wasn’t going to work out between her and her husband. She told me that there was no big, horrible event or battle to blame, more it was a series of small misses and faulty communications over a long stretch of time that caused the unraveling. And that maybe if they’d stopped and nipped things in the beginning, when the issues were small and ridiculous, they’d still be together. But since they let the little things build and accumulate, they’d snowballed together into an impossible impasse.
I trotted out my favorite analogy about how long-term couples are like garden gates, where over time weather warps the wood and causes the frame and door to swell in different directions. And as the door loses the ability to swing clean, you either have to force your way through with a kick or a shoulder-shove, or make room by shaving off some wood. Otherwise the door freezes and you have to just let it go and maybe find a new way to get into the back yard. Etcetera.
Then I started ruminating on what the small schisms might be that would cause Marco and me to swell in different directions—because if we stay together as long as I hope we do, the law of averages and human nature dictate that inevitably there will be real hurdles and growing-aparts that we will have to clear.
Then my friend said, “Whatever it is, it’s probably happened already and you didn’t even notice.” I gasped, and then we laughed and laughed, because she and I both know how worrier me so loves to dig my teeth into paranoid thoughts just like that. Oh, we do have fun!
When I got home, the first thing I did when I walked in the door was corner Marco to tell him what my friend had said and then ask him what relationship-ending seed he thought might already be growing between the two of us. Marco, without even pausing for a beat: “Oh. Your worrying. Clearly.” Bam! Ha ha! Wait.
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