The first time I heard Glen Hansard and Marketa Inglova's 'Falling Slowly,' I thought wow this is a really good song. Then I heard it again, and learned the words, heard it again, downloaded it, heard it again, put it on my repeat playlist, and just when you think there's only so much time to devour a song, you hear it again on a movie it was made for, with lead 'actors' that turned out to have actually 'fallen slowly' for each other in real life, and a story that defies the foundation of this theory we call the 'Happy Ending.'
In one of Glen Hansard's live performances, he introduced the song as a "story about going to a party with your girlfriend, and she goes off to get a drink, and you're standing there on your own, and you look across the room, and you see this girl you utterly fancy, it's not mental, you just feel it, and you realize that it's your girlfriend. You're like cha ching!"
But what if you don't have the 'cha ching' moment? What if, when you look across the room, staring at this beautiful person you just desperately fancy and you realize, he's not your boyfriend? What if when you look across the room, you find that nobody's even there?
And Miluju tebe? ('It's you I love' in Czech) What if you can't say it? What if there's no one to say it to?
What I loved most about the film 'Once,' despite the characters remaining nameless throughout, is their not ending up together. The guy fancied the girl, the girl loved the guy - at a whim, on a romantic hill in Dublin, days before deciding she wanted to make it work with her husband. And it ends there. Him going to London, going back to the love he once lost and chasing a dream. Her staying in Dublin, rekindling a marriage. Was it a sad ending? No. It's life. It's not perfect, but it's tragically brilliant when it hits the right notes.
I think that even though longevity and consistency make for a wonderful life, sometimes you have to look at it in frozen frames, pick out moments when the world stood still and you said to yourself, "cha ching! this is it," no matter how long it lasted for. In a span of weeks, a guy met a girl he at least loved for a moment, and those moments were incomparable only because they shared the same sad music. And that whiff of a memory, of meeting a girl, and singing in a music store after knowing her for only a day, has a potential of lasting forever.
When you're 21 and still single, every conversation you will have will more or less include a question why you haven't found love yet. How do you answer something like that? They'll ask, "don't you want to?" "aren't you ready?" But of course you want to, and you're ready. But when have wanting and being ready ever merited realization?
You could be standing all the way across the room, looking out a window to nothing, and feeling happy by default. And you say, "wait I'm happy here." Sometimes, that's enough, and you can only wish for more moments like that. Like tonight, as I write this, and on the 15th time today that I've played this song, I look across the room, and I realize, I am, in fact, happy.
Besides, "games that never amount to what they're meant will play themselves out" right? It falls slowly, and sometimes on a rather different path, sometimes painful, but it falls in whatever place it should. It doesn't mean it's not a happy ending.
It's just life. Raise your hopeful voice. You have a choice.