What film has inspired you, changed you or the way you think, maybe put you on a new path?
Hmmmm. Wouldn't it be nice if I had some high-brow Danish sub-titled Shakespeare production in mind?
The film that changed my life was .... The Story of Us. You know, Michelle Pfeiffer and Bruce Willis? No? Well, don't feel bad, lots of people haven't seen it.
Brief plot summary -- parents Ben and Katie have lost the thread of their marriage. They drop the kids at summer camp then drive off to different places for a trial separation period. The film follows their experiences, their fights in flashback, shows how easy it is to lose the romance and become parents instead of friends and lovers. At the end, they have both realised that they want their marriage to work, and the scene that gets me everytime is when Katie is crying about how they know each other, about all the tiny moments they've shared together, how they've built a life together, and she doesn't want to start that all over again with a stranger.
Pow! right between the eyes. Because back then (early 2000) I was all on my own. I no longer had anyone who shared my life, who had the same memories and experiences. There was no one to say "Oh, do you remember when..." - no secret language, no intimate looks that hold all the meaning in the world, no short cuts in a conversation, no jokes that only 'we' shared. And I realised that there never could be.
I left the cinema shattered. Really. Bizarre, I know.
I had always looked for excitement, novelty, in relationships. Suddenly, I realised that what I really needed was stability. Intimacy. Safety.
But I had to let go of a lot of romantic notions about Prince Charming sweeping me off my feet (yes, even at 35 I had fairy-tale inclinations) and I had to face the fact that I would have to really work at building a new relationship (if one were to come along, which didn't look hugely likely). I wasn't sure anyone would stick around long enough to get past my defences, to really get to know me. I wasn't sure anyone would get past my looks and age, to see who I was under the exterior. Scary stuff.
But sometimes, just sometimes, fairytales do come true.
My best friend rang me. He (yes, he) said he had split up from his wife 6 months previously, had been working on a remote mining site and very out of touch, and wanted to come visit me.
"Cool!" I said. "Bring the Jack Daniels."
At no point did I think "This is the moment I've been waiting for!" ... and yet it was.
That weekend, something clicked. We'd known each other and been best friends for 11 years, but that weekend we fell in love. Within 36 hours of arriving at my house, he'd asked me to marry him. And he wasn't even drunk!
This man did share my life. Huge chunks of it, anyway. He knew all the stupid things I'd done. He knew my strengths and weaknesses. He knew my character. He knew about my temper! And it was the same for me. There were very few unknowns (apart from -- you know)
We already had that intimate connection. We could finish each others' sentences. We had that short-hand conversation style you only ever see in best friends or old married couples. He'd known my kids when they were bumps. He'd come to my sons' funeral. And he saw the real me, past the wrinkles and fences.
Now, I know it sounds mushy and gushy and a bit Mills-and-Boon, but I think, if I hadn't seen that movie, I might not have realised the importance of that deep friendship we shared, and I might have lost the best thing I've ever had.