LOVE STORIES FROM THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY CAUGHT ON FILM
If there’s a train, there’s a man running after it.
We agree to meet at a bar.
She walks in from the dusk, sun spots lingering on her cheeks. The camera pans across the room to show the eyes, how each face turns.
I’m pretending to be on the phone.
Something to hold.
The scene involves climbing a fire escape with a bouquet of roses, conquering a fear of heights with music and a kiss.
The illusion of being in someone else’s possession.
He’d run by her home every morning.
He didn’t know if he was more afraid of seeing her, or not seeing her. Every morning.
As the two lovers talk, the Amalfi coast rushes by, slow enough to catch a glimpse, quick enough to want to catch it in place. The camera focuses on their faces, each exchange cropped in medium shot, leaving the site secondary, letting the setting recede into a fabulous black-and-white blur.
I kept looking for suggestions of her presence, as if she was everywhere. As if she’s everywhere. The bend at a corner. Silhouette turned toward a street lamp. Puddles on the sidewalk. Especially, behind the window. Tracks left by sandals on the prefab beach, sand driven in from somewhere else. On a day like this.
Well, aren’t you going to invite me in?
Hoist a boom box over your shoulder and blast the song you first made love to
On a loop
As if it never stopped
The soft blush of flowers. Lonesome whistles. Press my ear to a tree and listen.
The airport, right before the take-off. Someone is always arriving, or leaving. Or taking.
Pull back from a piece of luggage, roving on an escalator in the distance. Shouts and the skid of rubber, loud enough to turn around.
The camera encircles them in wild swoops. Reverse angles. It makes you light-headed, just to watch it happen, just to see it outside yourself.
The way she points her thumb and index finger to salvage the crumbs.
The reason why song is so beautiful is that it’s temporal. Three minutes, four. Epiphany with a countdown.
Such a long take between when our eyes finally meet—me still clutching my phone close, speaking to no one—and when she glides forward, drifting as if being carried. Glass chandelier, a bar with shelves that reach toward the ceiling. A fireplace and exposed brick. Soft shadows. Entrance of a piano without anyone seated to play. Kind of place with a coat check girl and a man that opens doors. In the bathroom, for the privilege of watching me empty my bladder, he asks for money, preferably dollar bills.
Green with envy; wanting to be outside at the same time I’m within it. Wanting to remember the first time as if it were still the first time.
As if it were five minutes ago, when we’d looked at each other from across the room and it started to come down.
There’s a French saying. Or at least I heard it said in France. There is one who is loved, and one who does the loving.
This would come right after the opening credits but before the names dissolve into a panorama of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Best to meet a man or woman who’s already moving. Capable of flight or fancy.
All the strangers who would not be strangers disembark, moving through Grand Central like a billiard ball, slipping in between each other on a dolly, cross-cut with a close-up of the station’s clock, the big and little hands.
Through a bus’s cloudy window, the city looks unexpected, carameled and soaked in sepia, strange landmarks spinning toward the audience like a carousel with every twist.
Hunger for everything I’ve never had, for everything I’ve ever had.
Wondering what it was Meat Loaf wouldn’t do after all.
Tell me more.
Aerial shot of the bridge during a storm, gaze slowly edging toward the promenade. A city that could be your own. Two figures at a stoplight. Lightning that sounds more like laughter than shrieks. Slow-dancing in the street.
I put you into my memories for a purpose.
Something has been left out, but I don’t know what. A wipe, change of scene, sound of rainfall to match each pearl of rain, the passage of time.
I don’t know what. Only enough to know something has been left out. Only enough to know something is missing. The way you sit silently and wait for it. Even after the lights go.
Even after everyone else has left.