I thought the Nora Ephron film Julie and Julia was unusual in its portrayal of the relationship between Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and her husband Paul Child (Stanly Tucci). Here was an adult marriage (they were long past the newlywed phase) that was believably and recognizably loving, equal, and sexual. It was my favorite part of the film, perhaps because I am in a marriage two weeks from celebrating its 19th anniversary that on its best days looks more or less like the Childs’ marriage. As I watched the film it occurred to me how rarely I get to see a marriage like this in movies. It is tempting to lament this. It is tempting to point out how ready we are to mourn the decline of the family and then race off to films in which that family is always laughably dysfunctional or downright destructive. But this would be unfair. Films, like all stories, are about conflict, and in Julie and Julia that conflict lay outside of Julia Child’s marriage. In Julie and Julia, the marriage, it seemed to me, represented Child’s indefatigable love of life and its physical pleasures, a love that would eventually see her through her challenges.
And because stories are about conflict, love stories will almost always be about couples, usually young couples, falling in love. Though I am no longer young, at least by Hollywood standards, I can find no fault in this either. Something in us grows up when we find love for the first time. That moment of recognition we call falling in love, that moment of seeing in another that which you have always felt in yourself. Such is the pleasure of creation: that which was inside of you is now outside of you and the world has changed.
If you marry someone, you only get to fall in love with her for the first time once. But I only ever get to do everything for the first time once. For instance, I only got to discover that I love to write once. And yet writing, like some marriages, can be constant discovery. As with writing, love is not some destination but a portal, a window through which to see life as I intend to lead it.
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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com