Friday, August 16, 2013

We made it...

There is a scene at the end of the movie "The Graduate" that has always stuck with me - almost haunted me. In the scene, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has just interrupted the wedding of his former girlfriend Elain (Katharine Ross) - whose mother he had an affair with - and they've escaped the angry mob in the church to hop on a bus toward "freedom". Both Ben and Elaine are gibby upon escaping the scene, but as they sit down and take even an initial stock of the situation they realize what a huge mistake they've made. Their faces move between forced smiles, awkard glances, and worried frowns.
This is what has always haunted me about that part. I've always been a "love will conquer all"-type romantic. I've always disregarded statistics and anecdotes about couples that have been in the same or similar situations as I have and failed. I just figured that "falling for" someone meant that you were perfect for each other and that things would inevitably work out in the end. But then along comes "The Graduate" and throws a wrench into that whole line of thinking. They had overcome a major obstacle in the fact that Ben had had an affair with Elaine's mother, but they were "in love" enough to believe in the moment that running off together would actually make them happy. And what happens immediately after the excitement of escape has subsided and the first tinge of reality breaks through, they immediately realize the error of their ways.
I certainly don't live my life by the lessons learned from a movie, but I will say that this particular scene has resonated with me. That's not to say I've changed my actions, even if I've changed my opinions. I still find myself falling to hard to fast for women that I should probably recognize right away will not be with me for the long term. I don't know if that's human nature, or just my nature. Maybe I'm a jump in head first type of person; so instead of weighing the pros and cons of being in the pool, I just want to know how the water feels.
There are certainly negatives associated with being too tentative in relationships as well, or being afraid of committing to someone, but I guess we've all got our baggage to haul. I guess all of this is to say that I think that scene, and specifically the look on Hoffman's face when they are sitting on that bus, is perfect metaphor for the reality of relationships throughout my life. Risk - excitement - reality. Risk - excitement - reality. Maybe one day reality will be a smile, not a frown.

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