The New York Times' Modern Love column is like a box of chocolates, if half of the chocolates were replaced by cringeworthy middle school journals crumpled up and dipped in hardened, bitter regret. I'm happy to report, however, that this week's Modern Love was actually pretty sweet.
Actress Maria Bello's account of telling her son that she was romantically involved with her close friend, a woman the boy had come to know as a sort of godmother, is tender, thoughtful, and self-aware without being self-indulgent. But not only is the subject matter touching, the writing is beautiful. Check out this, where Bello meditates on her romantic history, captured in a journal.
I read about the handful of men and the one woman I had been in romantic relationships with, passages rife with pain and angst. It seemed when I was physically attracted to someone, I would put them in the box of being my "soul mate" and then be crushed when things didn't turn out as I had hoped.
I read about the two men I fell for while working on films. I was sure each was my soul mate, a belief fueled by sexual attraction that made me certain I was in love, only to find that when the filming ended, so did the relationship. And I read about the man who asked me to marry him four years ago over the phone, before we had even kissed. Three months later we were in his kitchen throwing steaks at each other's heads in anger.
Lovely. How is it that this piece is turning me into my tendril-haired college Brit Lit professor who claps after pretty passages are read aloud? Anyway: lovely.
Not only is Bello's story (read it. Seriously, read it!) a touching story of her son's acceptance of their "modern family," it's a great, almost soothing, account of the nonlinear nature of most people's adult romantic relationships, and the happiness and contentment that can be derived from a life improvised rather than one tacked to existing paradigms. Things work out, things don't work out, and happiness could be somewhere unexpected.
Now, please, cable TV, I beg you: do not turn this into a movie and ruin it.