Tuesday, November 30, 2010

(500) Days of Slumber?

And this is how I spend my time. It passes by - like I am asleep.

It's been a while since I left Florida. After 35 years, it seemed like the right time to leave. "Time for a change" was my reasoning. But I know it was more than that.

The other night I saw a rather unique movie, "(500) Days of Summer." Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, it starts as a young man, Tom, tells us the best relationship of his life has ended and he's not sure why. The film jumps back and forth over the 500 days he's known Summer, the girl of his dreams who he meets at a greeting card company where he writes copy. Tom recalls moments and, as he leaps from memory to memory, the movie tells us which day we are watching so we can put the story in order. We accompany him as he tries to piece together where things went wrong.

It was a surprisingly moving piece. As Roger Ebert noted, it's rare that a film tells us its ending to begin with so we can follow the protagonist in his struggle to understand his past. As we watch the story unfold, we learn two key things. First, Tom doesn't want to be a greeting card writer; he studied to be an architect and dreams of pursuing it again one day. And second, when he and Summer first start dating, she admits that she is not interested in anything serious relationship-wise. So we begin with a person who wants to build something and another not willing (at least at the start) to commit to create anything substantial.

I found myself emotional at two points, both late in the film. A seminal moment arises where we see that Summer decides Tom isn't "the one." It's heartbreaking because he doesn't realize it is the moment, the importance of it escapes him as he has settled into seeing Summer as always being there. The other moment is the last time they see each other. They meet - possibly accidently, possibly only in Tom's mind - at a spot they shared that overlooked the cityscape and they talk about what happened.

I guess I relate heavily to the circumstances of the movie. I moved to Georgia 14 months ago after the break-up of an eight year relationship. At times while we were together, I held hope things would get better, that it would work out. Deep inside, I was slowly realising it would not. But I still had hope until the night she walked into our bedroom and said she was leaving. So I quit my job and decided I'd make a change - to pursue things, like screenwriting, that I thought I couldn't afford to try when I was in a commited relationship.

But truly, since then, I haven't tried. I've been asleep, the perfectionist in me won't leave it alone. I've been going over and over those eight years in my head, trying to figure out what went wrong, where I could have made a change to save what I cherished. I'm blocked - I rarely write, I hardly rest at night and I seem to jump from day to day. There are times when I can't recall what I did during the 24 hours before.

I know it's depression. I see a therapist. I take medication. But I still can't shake it.

I feel asleep, like I'm in a dull dream where nothing happens but the ticking of seconds. I struggle for clarity of thought and a time to just shut down. Moments of happiness arise but flitter away. I attempt to stay creative but too much time is spent on the search for the answer and not enough on focus - focus on anything but the search.

It's been more than 400 days now since I tried to leave it all behind. Will it be another 100 before I can wake?