Ever seen "500 Days of Summer"?
The always-adorable Joseph Gordon Levitt is madly in love with The New Girl (it's the gargantuan eyes, I think). Anyway, JGL thinks they're peas and carrots. Best match ever. Written in the gargantuan-eyed stars.
And then they break up.
At which point he (still, adorably) mopes and moans and wishes for what was.
Weren't we fetching? Cutest thing since kitten GIFs?
Where'd all that perfection go?
Then, as we all (less adorably) do, he gets his shit together. And once he does he looks at his past with a fresh pair of (smaller but undoubtedly clearer) eyes.
He finally sees the relationship for what it really was -- a sea of red flags amid the glossy good times.
Yes, without the rose hue, Gordon Levitt's Past Glasses finally show him the truth that we all learned from FOX in about Season 2 (waaaay pre-Prince episode, which is still worth checking out. Because it's Prince.): that Big Eyes wasn't a muse but a succubus, and that she only started doing him good when she got gone.
Friends, I can't tell you how many times I've JGLed down the street, a song in my heart, over some perceived piece of perfection, only to discover later that what I'd encountered -- and later mourned -- was more figment of my imagination than product of reality.
Hindsight, it seems, is not actually 20/20. It's myopic.
And, unless you one day decide to don prescription glasses, it will continue to be so.
Yes, even given time and distance, folks will continue to romanticize the past unless and until the present presents them (us?) with a sobering dose of reality. Like running into Big Eyes at a coffee shop with some other dude. Or encountering that former best friend's mug shot in the weekly reader flyer at the gas station. Or realizing that the Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring was actually just a way to get you to drink more Ovaltine.
Suddenly, everything you knew or thought you knew is called into question. And the world itself zooms into focus.
Did you really love this person? Or did you fall stupidly, madly, head-over-heels for the image you had of this person? Was he or she or the circumstance really so perfect, or was that just the reflection of your own projection?
Is Little Orphan Annie really speaking to us through the radio, or were her pleas for help really nothing more than a marketing ploy for hapless saps like ourselves?
Despite -- or perhaps because -- I am a hopeless romantic, I refuse to watch refuse like 27 Dresses and The Wedding Planner.
Sure, I could argue that the only things more banal than the performances are the plotlines, but the real reason I don't indulge is that I already have so many of these fucking-impossible scenarios bopping about in my skull.
Scenarios in which I encounter these loves again in some "step-into-a-bar-to-get-in-out-of-the-rain-and-there-he-is" cosmic cosplays -- where witty, heartbreaking things are said with perfect timing -- where the parting is bittersweet and one-for-the-ages (you know, end of Chasing Amy-type stuff).
It's mentally all-consuming.
And utterly wrong.
Over the years, I've had perfect past loves recontact me, whether to rekindle the old flame or to sate some curiosity, I'm not entirely sure.
And each time it's been the same: the thrill of returning to those perfect moments, only to discover -- sometimes alarming quickly -- that those moments (and the people who lived them) are gone. Perhaps they never really existed in the first place.
This discovery is always painful.
Because, try though I might, I continue to paint the past and the people in it with the now-threadbare brush of perceived perfection.
It's a heartbreaking exercise I nevertheless return to time and again.
Perhaps there is a deeper reason -- some resonating need -- that such an exercise fulfills. Maybe we all need to believe that perfection is possible. Maybe we all crave the near miss to give our lives some meaning.
But friends, just because you miss the past, doesn't make it true.
It just makes it hazy enough to appear flawless through the fog.