Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Same Time, Next Year - Parallels of Life

     There is a very cheesy movie (available on NetFlix) called Same Time, Next Year from 1978 starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn about a couple, both married for several years, with children, who met by chance at The Sea Shadows Inn set on the Pacific in California, and began what would become a long-lived affair. George, a nervous, neurotic accountant, came to the resort on the same weekend every year to do bookkeeping for an old friend who has a business in the area. Doris, an uneducated, naive woman, visited to go on retreat at a nearby convent, while her husband visited his mother (who hates Doris) with their children.  Their affair began innocently enough with glances exchanged across a dining room while they each ate alone. They sensed a connection and moved to the same table, then onto deep conversation and eventually sex.
    The movie follows them over 25 years of annual rendezvous beginning in 1951. It is apparent that they have no contact whatsoever in between and just showed up each time, trusting that the other will be there, and so they were.  They allowed themselves to unplug from their real lives and share a weekend in throes of passion and the feelings of new love.  It became tradition for each to share two stories about their spouses, one that showed them at their worst and one at their best. What the audience learns right away is that they are both married to wonderful people and their lives are good, although having their ups and downs as normal lives do. At the 5-year mark, Doris confessed that she stopped herself from calling him many times throughout the past year; that what they shared had started to spill over into her real life which frightened her and so she was there to end it. Upon seeing George again she knew instantly she was willing to pay any price to be with him every year for as long as he would have her. The story continues showing us how the couple changes over the years sometimes in frustratingly opposite directions as they navigate their individual challenges. They argue. They forgive. They make love.
    What does all of that have to do with me?  I am living a strangely analogous story. I met a man in a chat room on AOL back in late 1995 and we began having deep conversations.  We shared the woes of our respective marriages which had remarkably similar issues. Eventually we began talking on the phone and then in the summer of 1997 we met in person, in a hotel room... and so it began. 
    Through the years we have been a support to one another.  He helped me find strength I didn't know I had while I was going through my divorce. He enjoyed my transformation from a frightened inexperienced young woman into a confident, playful minx. I listen to his marital struggles and the accomplishments of his career and his children. He helped edit my resume, advised me when things were not going well at this job or that. He was compassionate when my father died as I was for him when he went through the same thing. I always tell him the good I see in him, which he very much needs to hear. We celebrate the successes and joys in our lives, always wanting the best for each other's fulfillment and happiness. There is no jealousy, no delusions, no secrets.  We see the best in each other with trust, affection and appreciation... and...  we can't keep our hands off each other! Our relationship is unique, special and clearly defined.
    Although not at the same time or the same place every year, for most of the past 17 years we have made our way to each other to steal a few hours together.  Occasionally twice a year and even skipping one or two, we work it out whenever possible. We get excited with anticipation beforehand as plans are made and the time of our meeting approaches.  I get nervous as a school girl and then melt in his arms every time. When we meet we freely share a bottle wine, deep conversation and each other: It is intense, lusty, joyful and intimate.  For those precious moments the rest of the world disappears and we leave each other satisfied and revitalized with the promise to meet again.  It is bliss. 

     I can't wait to see him again!
    The bottom line is that both of us come from places of utter rejection and so we happily create for each other, complete acceptance. Others should be so fortunate. Do you know the last line of that cheesy movie?  "... I'll keep coming back until our bones are too brittle to risk contact."    Yes!