What It Means To Love

Probably the most hurtful thing I’ve ever said to my husband was along the lines of “Maybe I would have made a different choice 10 years ago.”

I like to pride myself for not saying things I don’t mean when we are fighting, even in anger, so this comment didn’t stick out as being particularly awful when I said it. When I realized, analyzing the fight later, just what a shitty thing to say that was, my initial reaction was a knee-jerk apology; of course, I didn’t mean that! But then I wondered: was this a time when I forgot myself and said something untrue in anger, or was it yet another time when I did something worse – accidentally speak a terrible truth?

So I forced myself to consider it. Knowing everything that would happen between us, would I tell my college self to run, or to stay? At first I wasn’t sure; things were that rocky. But a lot of good happens in a relationship, and the more I thought the more I realized, no, I would not make a different choice, even in the midst of a rough patch. Even, perhaps, when everything is in splinters.

I read a memoir once (Kingbird Highway) in which the man wrote, about meeting his ex-wife while hitchhiking, that even if he could have looked down the tunnel of years to their divorce, he’d have gotten in the car with her anyway. Even if I don’t make it to 80 on the porch with my husband, I believe I will always answer the question the same way.

Re-watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind reminded me of that moment, and I realized – that is what it means to love someone: to choose them again anyway.


Joel’s answer to her is, “Okay.” Okay, I’ll take the chance that things will unravel the same way they did the first time. Okay, I’ll take the chance that I will come to regret this choice. Okay, I’ll take the chance that you will hurt me. Okay.


It’s the most beautiful scene in the film, to me. And it’s absolutely what it means to love someone – to choose them again, no matter what.



Filed under Film, Ramblings, Reflections on Romance

2 responses to “What It Means To Love

  1. Not quite fair – you have the benefit of hindsight, the good and the bad. And the you now has been altered, modified by the places where there were contentions that have gotten smoother with conflict (discussion? living with another human and sharing things like kitchen utensils?).

    We fit together better now, DH and I, but the question remains whether I lost pieces I didn’t really want to lose, pieces I used to value.

    I’d make a list, but there’s not much point, is there? I’ve fit into my life what I could – the rest will have to await another.

    On the good side, things that fit together well are stronger in the joined area – and that is good for rearing rugrats.

    I wonder whether we have hormones that regulate that, as well, seeing as how families which can rear children to adulthood were necessary for the survival of the species.

    • Well, hindsight is both a blessing and a curse – yes you get to see the good, but you also get to see the bad. I wonder if 19 year old me would look at some of the conflicts amd arguments that happen in the process of grinding down to fit together better and say “no way,” bc her context is different from mine even in the midst of one kf those grinding periods. I doubt you have read this series, but i am reminde of Mercedes Lackey’s Last Herald Mage trilogy. The hero has a touch of precog and for years dreams of himself wounded and dying on a battlefield and is terrified of it; by the time he actually gets there he realizes his hurts are minor, that he has previously suffered worse but when he was 16 and first having the dream he had no context for pain or what he was capable of enduring.

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