We all have holes in our psyche to fill, you see. Holes that sometimes we talk about, and holes that sometimes announce their presence because we can't (or won't) bear to mention them. Sometimes, given the fortuitous combination of personality and circumstance, another person comes along. Another person with holes in their life. Given the right time of day and phase of the moon (or kindly guiding force, depending on how your world works) their emptiness lines up with yours.Sometimes the holes of one cancel out the holes of another, forming a stronger fabric. Sometimes the holes are too frequent to be covered, but the combination of theirs and yours forms something—not necessarily stronger—but more beautiful. Lacework, if you will.
After all, lacework is the art of beautifully framing empty space.
I like stories about flawed people, mostly because I understand how to relate to flawed people. The knots—the holes, if you will—give you places to grab on to. Points of reference.
Years ago, I knew someone—let's call him Jeremiah, for reasons known only to me—who undoubtedly qualified as the least flawed person I'd ever known. Even now, many years later, he still holds that distinction. Then, I would have described him as "smart." Now I would just describe him as "relentless."
He was perfect. Aggressively so. Grades: perfect. Shoes: evenly tied, equally (gently) worn. He slicked his hair down even in 1994, when plaid flannel and Kurt Cobain were the fashion heroes of the day. He wanted to be a doctor, probably had never considered being anything else, and we had known each other since first grade.
I spent years attempting to crack the perfection he presented to the world. We (those fellow misfits I banded with in high school) all did. A Seventh-Day Adventist, Jeremiah staunchly refused to attend football games on Friday evenings, nor would he join us for casual get-togethers on Saturday or Sunday nights.
Gradually, we all let go of him. Not because we wanted to; we had all grown up together and wanted to remain friends, but there was no visibly empty space in his life that any of us could fill.
With no visible holes, there was no foothold. WIth no foothold, he just slipped away, as self-contained as he always was. I haven't heard from him in eight years. I doubt that, unless our classes have joint reunions and he chooses to attend, I ever will.
By now, he's probably a doctor, and probably a technically excellent one. I just wonder if he was ever able to learn to truly relate to the foibles and fallibilities of others when he had so few of his own.
Somewhere, along these lines, lies the elusive answer to why I liked Twin Falls Idaho so much. Even on the second viewing, I could see the faults lying behind its earnest intensity. Contrary to my usual behavior, I found I liked the movie all the better for them.
It concerns itself (surprisingly enough, given the subject matter of this entry) about holes. Not pretty, I-don't-know-what-I-should-wear-today Valley Girl holes, but the kind that come from dealing with a reality that doesn't come tinted by the silver unreality of cinema. The kind of holes that throw a person so off-kilter they only manage to right themselves for a few minutes every few years, before slipping back into their world of constant overbalancing and overcompensation.
One of the keys to the movie is to look where the directors want you to look: at the third character. The movie's twins, Blake and Francis, have such painfully obvious holes in their lives that Penny's holes in hers are overshadowed. A viewer who stares only at the twins during the movie won't notice that Penny's dress, hair, and makeup gradually melt into a semblance of normalcy as she finally begins to relate to someone.
The movie progresses by occasionally-obvious steps, peeling away layers of characterization until what's left is nothing but two very desperate, very lonely people, whose need for someone in their lives is so pervasive, so looming, that it would be almost impossible for them not to be able to supplant each other's weaknesses. The comfort, when it comes, is both sad and haunting. Most movies never manage to conjure such a moment.
An appreciation of moments like these runs counter to just about every notion of 'connectivity' that we have in our culture. We have email, snail mail, voice mail, answering machines, multiple telephone lines, instant messages, notes on the fridge, notes on the counter, cell phones with voice mail, and sometimes even pagers for when all of those other methods don't work.
All because we want to be found the instant someone cares enough to want to find us.
The empty spaces, framed and punctuated by calls/faxes/letters/emails/messages, can be daunting. Mostly because we suspect we're the only ones who ever, occasionally, feel a stab of worry that the silence means that no one gives a damn.
After all, it's only a neurosis if you're the only one that's got it.
* * * * *
So, yes, I went chasing around town today to see if anyone actually had a used copy of Twin Falls Idaho available on DVD. Of course not. But I did find that Peter Murphy CD I wanted, so the trip wasn't entirely wasted.
You know, I really only meant to get up to get a glass of water; when I left this entry a few hours ago, I really meant to wait until the morning to finish it. Oh, well. These things just happen, I suppose…