Summer: “One day I woke up and I just knew.”
Tom: “Knew what?”
Summer: “What I was never sure of when I was with you.”
This heart-wrenching scene from the indy hit 500 Days of Summer truly delivers the crushing honesty of love: it is sudden, both in its arrival and its departure. We’re meant to feel sorry for Tom, who has been head over heels for Summer, the girl who said that she didn’t want anything serious. Yet when she ends up married to someone else, her initial demands of being casual seem like a slap in the face. How could she have lied to him in that way?
The truth that this film so brilliantly captures is that we cannot predict love, we cannot control love. We think that we have life all figured out and we know exactly how we want, or will allow, someone else to fit within the architecture we’ve already laid out. And then that someone appears out of nowhere one day and we’re thrown for a loop. This isn’t the way it was supposed to happen and certainly not the way you had planned. Yet it feels good, perfect.
Everything happens just as suddenly as depicted in the film. One day you wake up and there’s a person there that you seem to have known forever. But you haven’t, and you’re continuing to learn more and more about each other every day. The whole experience is a joyous, wild ride that you can’t possibly imagine ending.
Another day you wake up and don’t recognize that person anymore. The light switch that was so quickly flipped on is just as quick flipped off, and the relationship is over. No one has any idea why or how this happens, and for those of us who have experienced it, the whole situation is disconcerting. You try to figure out what’s wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Just as you couldn’t say what was so right when the relationship started, you also can’t identify why it’s over. It literally is just a feeling you had when you woke up.
The suddenness of love is what makes it so wonderful and so terrible all at the same time. It’s a wild, wild ride and we’re all just hanging on for dear life. The more time we spend pondering the suddenness, the more easily we may miss new opportunities that are right in front of us, as captured in one of the movies final scenes with a new girl.
Girl: Have I seen you before?
Tom: Me? I don’t think so.
Girl: Do you ever go to Angela’s Plaza?
Tom: Yes… That’s like my favorite spot in the city.
Girl: Yeah, except for the parking lots.
Tom: Yeah, yeah I agree.
Girl: Yeah, yeah I think I’ve seen you there.
Tom: I haven’t seen you?
Girl: You must not have been looking…