So, SPOILERS right off. How weird would it be to wake up in pajamas you don't even remember owning? On the one hand, I don't know why Joel would have bought new pajamas knowing he was about to have his memory erased. On the other hand, he should have been seriously freaking out when he woke up. I would have been. The only time I ever had too much to drink and did not actually remember going to bed, just waking up in bed normally the next morning freaked me out. Had I also been wearing brand new pajamas...
Let us get into Day 1 with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the personal bit right out of the way. This is one of my favorite movies. Depending on my mood when asked, I might list this as my favorite movie. If pressed anyway. I don't usually go for favorites. I realize right away watching it this time that I probably can relate a bit too much to Joel. His line about falling in love with any woman who gives him the least bit of attention--I get that. Not being able to make eye contact, too. That's why I have only ever once dated someone I met first in reality.
It's remarkable how memories and feelings can be so intertwined (as in the movie) and sometimes so very separate. Moment that seem so clear in every detail--I can remember the weather, the location, but not... quite the feeling. The feeling fades.
The best part and the worst part is that certain moments still feel the same even years after the fact. A first kiss, first time in bed (or on a couch, as the case may be), first time you say "I love you." All that cheesy stuff. And, little moments that might never get into your love story. Playing the violin over the phone. A ride on a roller coaster. A stack of pancakes with a hole in them. A haircut in a tiny bathroom. Accidentally letting the bird out of its cage, which seems like it will start a fight but turns out to be kinda funny. A quiet bus ride.
Not only good things, though. A fight over a paycheck. A confrontation on the attic stairs that turns out to be one of the worst moments of your life, my life. Silence at a party that speaks louder than an argument. Fear over a sick child. Loneliness.
There's a reason that we need both. A reason Clementine feels lost. A reason Joel pairs "You're erasing her from me" and "You're erasing me from her." All of this stuff, these moments, combine together to make us who we are. It's simplistic. It's trite. But, it's true.
And no matter how much a breakup might hurt, or losing a loved one might hurt, erasing that hurt rather than recovering from it--that just leaves a hole.
And, like Joel, like Clementine, we would just fill that hole all over again with something similar, something that fits. I wrote about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in this blog before. I argued that we're all doomed to repeat pretty much everything in our lives, not just relationships but everything...
And, it's like all of us doomed to repeat so many things in our lives, trivial and not so trivial. Each day begins much the same, middles much the same, and ends much the same. There are variations, just like Phil finds (and creates) variations in his day, but so muhc is just the same shit, different day. Gotta get up by 7, get to work by 8, eat breakfast, maybe stop for coffee, work work work, keep busy busy busy (as a Bokononist might say), get some lunch, work some more, then head home to the wife and kids, or the dog, or the empty apartment bereft of hope, the world forgetting, by the world forgot. Dinner with the family, dinner alone, a dinner date--variations on a theme. Rinse and Repeat.
And, I want to say something amazing, pull all this together into something inspirational. Instead, I'll let me from a little more than a year ago keep on going. I like what he had to say. I like that he's me.
If you're lucky, all this resumption and repetition gets some momentum toward a pleasant end. And, I don't mean your death. I mean your life, fulfilled, fulfilling, meaningful more than wasted, so the monotonous moments blur more easily together to make way in your memory for the happy moments, the thrilling moments, time with those you care about, time with those who care about you. Time doing what you want to do more than what you have to do (or maybe finding something that happens t make those two things one and the same).
Figure it out. Or don't. Be with someone. Or don't. But, enjoy it. Whatever it is. Embrace the details, embrace the broad strokes. Live.
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot
The world forgetting and the world forgot
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd
labour and rest, that equal periods keep
"Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep"
Desires compos'd, affections ever ev'n
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heav'n...
- Alexander Pope, "Eloisa to Abelard"