"Before Obsession" doesn't accurately describe my current state of being in reference to the three wonderful Before movies. As I mentioned in Monday's post, this past weekend my husband and I watched Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight in quick succession. I heard about these movies on Pop Culture Happy Hour (yet another fantastic recommendation!) and they sounded right up my alley. First off, they're written and directed by Richard Linklater, who made some of my absolute favorite movies including Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, and Bernie. Secondly, the Before movies chronicle the love (and challenges facing that love) of Jesse and Céline, and you KNOW star-crossed lovers are pretty much my favorite subject ever (remember this post?).
My favorite thing about these movies, though, is the extent to which they reflect my own experience with falling in love. I'll get to why that is, but first a quick rundown of the Before plot:
In Before Sunrise, Jesse and Céline meet on a train. They're 23. He's from America, traveling around Europe, and she's from Paris. After talking for awhile, Jesse convinces Céline to get off the train with him in Vienna. He was planning on walking around the city all night because he doesn't have enough money for a hotel room and has to catch a plane back to the U.S. the next morning. He tells Céline it will be more fun if she's there. As you can imagine, love ensues.
Not to give too much away, Before Sunset features Jesse and Céline nine years later. They haven't seen each other since the night in Vienna. In Before Midnight, another nine years have passed, and the two are together with twin daughters.
The most incredible thing about these movies is that they are 95% conversation. The first two movies consist almost exclusively of Jesse and Céline walking around Vienna and Paris, talking to each other. There are no hallmarks of typical romantic movies - no dance scenes, no protracted love scenes, no costume changes, not even conversations with other characters. It's literally just them, talking. This might sound boring, but if you've ever fallen in love, met "that" person, you know just how true-to-life this portrayal is. I met my husband when we were 19 years old. We had just finished our freshman years of college, and we were both at a house party where we were the only ones not drinking. We'd known each other as children - that got the conversation started - but after that first acknowledgment of our shared past, we spent the next few days talking nonstop about everything and nothing in particular.
I think Before Sunrise rings so true for me because the first couple nights we knew each other, my husband and I sat up every night until 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, discussing family, college, life philosophy, favorite memories, anything. We never ran out of things to say, and we never wanted to stop or pause the conversation. That's the experience that's portrayed in all three of the Before movies, and those are the memories I love recalling. But the movies inspire more than recalling memories - because everything is so genuine, it feels like you're living that experience again. You laugh, you hope, you ache with them. It's an incredible story in an incredible movie and I just can't get enough.
And just like Jesse and Céline, my husband and I faced near-impossible circumstances: he went to Stanford, I went to Rice. His family lived in Austin, my family lived in Houston. We hadn't even started our sophomore years of college yet, so we were looking down the barrel of at least three years apart. Minimum. When you're 19 and you're slowly realizing that you found the love of your life, that is a very hard situation to swallow. But, unlike Jesse and Céline, we made it work. In the movie, they discuss how they don't want to try to force a long-distance relationship to work, because the relationship will inevitably fizzle and die. I had the exact same reaction in the beginning - I didn't think we should be exclusive, and I told him that he shouldn't feel like he had to call me. But, surprising both him and myself, I called him the first night he was back in Austin and we called each other every single night from there on out. We made the relationship happen. The fact that we persevered through that at such a young age will always be my proudest achievement.
My husband and I were boyfriend and girlfriend in middle school. Everyone thinks that that's the single most incredible part of our story, and I often agree. But after watching the Before movies, I'm reminded that the truly remarkable part of our story is that we met by chance, and stayed together by force. Beyond meeting, love is not something best left up to the ways of the universe - you have to chase it, twist it, wrestle it to the ground. Our relationship never would have happened if my husband hadn't insisted on walking me home that first night. Our relationship never would have happened if he hadn't asked me out to dinner at the end of that walk. And it never would have happened if I hadn't picked up the phone and called him because I missed him terribly the first night he was back in Austin. By all means, leave finding someone else up to chance. But once you do, don't let them get away. Before Sunset is the best warning tale on that I've ever seen.
I hope this hasn't been too sappy, too rambling, too boring. These days, I feel like so much of who I am is shaped by the experience of meeting and pursuing things with my husband. If you don't know my story, I feel like you don't know me. So, to all of my wonderful readers - this is who I am. Love is the most important thing in my life, full-stop. I relive the heady memories of falling in love over and over again, and I will never tire of watching the Before movies for that exact reason. I can only hope that you'll enjoy them as much as I did.
See you back here tomorrow - have a great day!