Sunday, December 11, 2005

Please step away from your computer and go watch Brokeback Mountain

Towards the end of the Annie Proulx short story on which the movie Brokeback Mountain is based, there is this line:

What Jack remembered and craved in a way he could neither help nor understand was the time that distant summer on Brokeback when Ennis had come up behind him and pulled him close, the silent embrace satisfying some shared and sexless hunger.

This movie opened something in me, some tiny voice that I'd shut off and stifled and stopped listening to. I saw it by myself on Friday afternoon, walked out of the theatre wiping tears onto the back of my hand, and the sky had turned black while I was inside. It gets so dark so early now and I had taken not ten steps when the phone rang and it was Robert, calling from Brazil, to say hello (and also, truthfully, calling because I'd given him a hard time about our pathetic dribblings of every other day "Hi, baby, how are you? Miss you, love you, see ya!" bullshite exchanges. "If we don't have two minutes a day to singularly devote to each other," I wrote in an email, "then I have been remiss about communicating to you what I need. Nothing is an important to me as hearing your voice and knowing that you're okay and that you wanted to call and hear my voice.") I thought about him so much watching this movie. And it was him I was thinking about but mostly, of course, it was my own feelings.

I remembered times when I have felt so overwhelmed by passion and attraction and animal hunger for lovers. I remembered having those feelings for Robert, the truth is that I still do. I am in love with my best friend and when I let myself really consider how I feel for him -- how much I feel for him -- I'm always surprised. Most days, you know, we check in, we check out, I do my own thing four flights up in Alphabet City, he does his own thing in some other part of the world and we talk a whole hell of a lot about the plans we have to be together. We're going to live here and here and here or there if not here and let's have a vacation hut in Brazil, let's make plans for what to do next Christmas, are you free the first weekend in May?

I sat in this full theatre and watched Brokeback Mountain tell me a story about a love that is true and aggressive and gentle and so beautiful choke on its own fear. It's different, I know it is, but on some level it's also a story about two people who spend their relationship compartmentalizing their time and living their own lives separate from each other.

So I got out of there after the closing credits and Robert called and he told me about his day and the swim he'd just had and won't it be great to see each other in a week? And, forgive me my impatience, I said, "Are we ever going to wake up together every day without feeling like we're on borrowed time?"
"Yes, Sarah."
"Most days, Robert, most of the time, I don't even let myself think about you in any real way. It's easier to put talking to you on a checklist than it is to let myself really miss you and wonder why we're not together. This movie, you see these guys fall in love and twenty years later, they're still in love but now they're old and all they have keeping them "in love" is what happened twenty years earlier."
And then my phone battery died.

I got home and Robert called again. He asked me what I was going to do for dinner, I asked him how is father is, I said I miss you, he said I miss you, I said Promise me that you will see this movie. I said Let me read you this line from the short story. It goes like this.


Anonymous camille said...

I saw it tonight, sitting alone in the second row of the theater craning my neck upwards as I balanced Japanese curry and a side salad in a styrofoam container on my lap.
I deserve to be loved.
I feel incredibly lonely.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Camille, I am not your missing piece but I love you.

This story
is so haunting I cannot stop thinking about it.

Yesterday, by the way, I read an interview with Jake Gyllenhall (sp?) in Details magazine in which is says that he doesn't even believe that the two characters are gay. He thinks they're straight, that their attraction to each other is an anomaly. What?!

12:25 PM  
Anonymous camille said...

No ma'am you are NOT my missing piece. Not even the man who didn't call is my missing piece. My missing piece is floating around somewhere doing God knows what...maybe making himself a better person for me.
The Jake Gyllenhaal character is definitely gay. He has numerous partners we know of. I am not so sure about the Heath Ledger character. It seems like he just gave his heart to this person and has nothing left for anyone else... but on the other hand that story of the murder of the gay men in his town seems to have hung with him in such a way that I think he--too--is gay but has suppressed it because of this fear of such a grisly and humiliating death. So complicated !

1:53 PM  

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