“It was a cold dark evening, such a long time ago, when by the mighty hand of Jove… It was the sad story how we became lonely two-legged creatures,” -Hedwig & The Angry Inch

I’ve mentioned before that there are five television shows and/or movies that have had a profound effect on me. One of them is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. If you haven’t seen the movie and are open to a musical about a transexual rock star*, I recommend it. I won’t be giving too much away in this piece that isn’t already alluded to early in the film or that isn’t predictable from early in the movie.

Near the end of the film is a confrontation** between the protagonist, Hedwig, and her former love Tommy. Tommy did some really quite rotten things to Hedwig, moved on, became a star, and ignored Hedwig thereafter. When the two meet at the end of the film, the overriding feeling is that there is nothing he can say that will make what he did okay, and there is nothing that she can hear that will make the pain go away. Hedwig was left to confront that she had lost everything not only because of Tommy, but because of her inability to let go of him.

That was the part that I focused on when I first saw the film because I was dealing with the breakup between Evangeline and myself. The part I saw was the breaking up and moving on. Or trying to move on, anyway.

Several years later I find myself focusing on another aspect of the same scene. It was two people looking at each other, one destroyed and the other sorry. It was two people that obviously loved one another in their own way, but in a way that couldn’t ultimately be anything but destructive. Hedwig lost her identity; Tommy lost his soul. They each needed to get back what they had lost, but it was apparent that they would not be able to do so together.

“There’s too much to fix here. I’m going to Tahoe.” -Jack Gallow

I’ve mentioned that I have been gathering my thoughts on with Evangeline off and on since I found out that she was getting married. It felt sort of like my stomach settling. Things were rumbling around because some gas needed to get out. When I have relevent dreams it’s often a case of something on the periphery of my mind needs to be let out, so when I had the dream of Evangeline, I took it as a sign that I had some things to think about. Namely, why the happy occasion of her engagement discomforted me a little bit even though I was the one that shut the door on the relationship and I would not want to reconcile even if I weren’t well married.

When I decided to go forward with the marriage to Clancy, I closed the door on reconciliation with her. When I actually got married and moved to Deseret, the door was locked. When she ended up finally leaving her stable-but-unmarriable boyfriend Kelvin, my main thought was being thrilled that she wasn’t waiting for me to reconsider. It may sound egocentric of me to say that, of course, but it’s sort of what she said she would do, it’s what I might have done for her, and it’s precisely what my friend Tony’s wife Lara did for him when she waited years for Tony’s relationship with Julie to fail. Upon finding out that she was getting married, it wasn’t even the sound of a door being shut or locking. Rather it was an echo of the door closing years ago.

In that echo I heard the song Wicked Little Town, and I heard something that she once said to me.

“Between us there is so much more wrecked than right” -Evangeline Pierce

The gas that escaped was the realization that taking a broadside look at the relationship five years since its destruction that we each had a profoundly negative impact on one another’s life. I guess I knew that one some level, but I honestly never really looked at the tally before. And with each step away from it, I realize that all of those costs incurred will never be recouped. It will never be made good.

I am left to ask myself how it is that two people with such an intense connection and such strong feelings can end up in something so destructive. How can the rhythm in our hearts beat in such synchronization and yet leave us so ultimately incompatible with one another.

The connection I share with Clancy, and the foundation of our relationship, is one of similar values and thoughts. This past weekend at the Oasis we found ourselves thinking the exact same thing at least a half-dozen times. I don’t always agree with what she’s thinking, but I understand what she thinks and how she thinks and I have the deepest love and admiration for her.

The connection with Eva was something on a more emotional or spiritual level (this is why she thought the decision between them was a heart vs mind that lead to my alternate future). In the same way that I can tell what and how Clancy thinks, I had a remarkable intuition as to how Eva felt. I was pretty consistently able to figure out what she was going to do before she did it, when the choice came down to her emotions. She also had a unique understanding of a part of me that no one else really sees, much less understands.

You would think that that kind of empathy would lead two people close together, but it never worked out that way. It almost made the two of us too sensitive to be around one another. I could feel when I was hurting her and she could feel the same. We’d hurt, we’d pull away. Most importantly, we’d process our emotions differently. Then we’d expect the other person to understand because of how good they were at understanding us the rest of the time.

How could something so special go so wrong?

“What we lost here is something better left alone” -Matchbox Twenty

The answers to that question are legion. Those things that I saw of myself in her were those aspects of myself that I was least comfortable with. She had trouble accepting how someone that felt so similarly to her could think so differently. The passion of our emotions always outstripped the virtue.

And at the end of the day, we caused more harm to one another than good. I’m married and she’s getting married. Even if I wasn’t married, she is not where I would turn. It’s too late to ever change the score. To ever make things even. To ever make things good. Ever.

It’s not unlike attempts to quit smoking. The parallels between breaking up and quitting smoking deserve a post all their own, but I’ll explore an aspect of it here. I can stop smoking for weeks at a time and I do. The problem is that there’s something in the back of my mind that freaks out at the thought of never smoking another ever, ever, ever again. That echo of a door shut.

With Evangeline, it isn’t that she and I won’t be together again or anything like that. Rather, it’s that the potential we had will never be realized. I will not attend her wedding as she never attending mine. I will never meet her children and she will never meet mine. We will never be friends. I haven’t spoken to her in over a year. When we were together we wallowed in our weaknesses. I don’t know if it had to be that way or not, but it was. And like Hedwig and Tommy, we are at our best when we are confronting life apart.

Despite all this, I don’t regret having met her. I don’t even think I regret the wasted time and the anger and the sadness. I met her at a time when I was emotionally dead and she brought me back to life. It’s hard to regret that on the whole because it made me who I am. It made the kind of person that could make things work with Clancy. If it weren’t for her, there wouldn’t be a me.

Even though she and I will never be able to make things right, things ended up alright. I’m sure at some point in the future I’ll have another little burp of gas from the past. Some song will come on the radio and it will make me think of her. That’s the way things work with memories. With the latest news is the opportunity to recognize that our lives intersected on our way to happy endings. Separate endings, maybe, but who can ask for more than two happy endings?

And in the end, who could ask for more than two happy endings?

* – I was and am viscerally uncomfortable with transexuality, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of this movie one iota.

** – I call it a scene, but it’s actually a musical number. The song is really good, but the dialogue-free acting is phenomenal. It was better than any standard dialogue could be.

Category: Ghostland, Theater

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2 Responses to A Separate Happiness

  1. Spungen says:

    * – I was and am viscerally uncomfortable with transexuality, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of this movie one iota.

    Yeah, I was thinking, it takes a brave straight man to claim Hedwig as a profound influence.

  2. trumwill says:

    One of my other profound influences was a little robot girl.

    I never claimed to be normal.

    (actually I did claim to be normal once upon a time, but I outgrew that phase)

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