I listened to a podcast recently about women who were married to mobsters. One of their granddaughters said that her grandparents loved each other but, “there’s a thin line between love and hate.” There’s a reason why we don’t always believe we’re in love. It takes a certain kind of persistence and dedication to commit to the idea that we’re there. This earnesty leaves us vulnerable to make sacrifices - maybe even puts us in debt. 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind examines this precise exercise. We know that Clem and Joel are projecting fantasies onto each other. Even with Clem’s attempt at deflecting Joel’s too early compliment, “well, you don’t know me, so…” We are led to initially believe that these two are immune to the pitfalls of love, both too withdrawn, too angry with it all to fully buy into this play thing.  And yet, there they are. Mere hours into meeting for the seemingly first time, wanting to have a sleepover. Cling to the warmth. From a stranger, however momentary - an evening together simply a wish.

But anyway, they fall into the same patterns as everyone else. They both know what they want, unsure how to get it, so force a false narrative upon another person - pushing and pushing almost like the moon eclipsing the sun. This doesn’t work. We know this. And then we’re back - vulnerable to sacrifice, an investment that fell through. This makes us uncomfortable and embarrassed and feel very small like children again. And we want to forget that feeling - for a hot, bright minute we want to forget so badly. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind shows us what this grand forgetting would really be like. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just an option. And what’s life without those.