I fell in love with my wife at first sight. We met when she came to a meeting about a script I'd written. She walked into the room and that was it; bells, whistles, fireworks. I was gone; still am, ten years on. But our meeting wasn't my first sight of her. She was then, still is, a good and successful actress, and I'd seen her movies. So did I fall in love with her through watching her onscreen? Could I really have known with inexplicable certainty that we were destined to be together? We were, but isn't that what celebrity stalkers think?
Anyway like I say, she walked in, and we're married, and that's a fine thing. So years later, when I wanted to write about love, I thought back to that first meeting. I remembered wondering whether to shave, carefully selecting the least obviously stained of my t-shirts, washing my right hand for a cool yet strong grip. I remembered watching her walk through the door. And I remembered my heart stopping, then starting again, forever changed.
In my movie it's all different, obviously it is. For starters, I'm a woman called Rachel. She's proceeding up the aisle toward her intended husband when she looks to her left, and locks eyes with someone she knows immediately to be the love of her life. It's a while before she admits that knowledge to herself, let alone anyone else (it would've been a short film otherwise) but once it's out there, the story of the movie, as of so many movies, is the story of a passion that cannot be denied.
We talked a lot in pre-production about how to shoot that moment, the click. And then we talked a lot in post about to cut it, how to score it, how to sell it. I thought then, and still think, that ultimately it would not be that scene, and our treatment of it, that would convince the audience something momentous has taken place, but the rest of the movie. Only if we could make you believe that the two characters should be together, would be together, and would stay together, would you believe that they had truly fallen for each other that fast. The paradox of love at first sight, the way we can differentiate it from lust, or merely confusion, is that it proves itself only by continuing to exist.
But still, the moment itself had to be
beautiful, had to be life-changing, as it was for me, even if my understanding
of what really happened in that instant is no greater. Did her apocrine
glands give off the requisite pheromones to suit my olfactory? Did my
brain submerge itself in phenylethylamine? Or did I look into her eyes
and see her soul? And in the end, does it matter? What is important is
that something happened, everything happened. TS Eliot said that we should
not over-examine love, not seek to place it "fixed and sprawling
on a pin" - the study of it only devalues the object. It just is.
And thank God for that.
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