When your wife is away for the weekend at a conference and you binge-watch Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight, and you remember seeing Before Sunrise at the student union in 1995 and when Jesse and Celine kissed for the first time while overlooking the ferris wheel you remembered two years earlier riding a ferris wheel with the first girl you loved right after she broke up with you and she let you hold her hand one last time and you knew at that moment that you’d thought she would be the only one you would ever tell you loved, and then you watched Before Sunset in 2005 alone in the room your friend Frank rented out to you after you ran off and left the fourth or fifth woman you thought would be your Celine, and then again in 2007 with the woman who would become your wife, only she thought it was a bit maudlin, and so six years later when the third film was released you didn’t bother asking her if she’d want to watch it, instead waiting until she’s out of town and your two children have gone to bed to share space with these two fictional characters whose fates parallel yours, realizing that you’ve been wondering for years how they’ve been, whether Jesse stayed in Paris, and now, seeing them in Greece having the same sort of existential negotiations you have with your wife, you feel more comfortable in the world knowing they exist in it, even as fictions. And you realize, watching these three films in succession after your children are asleep, while your wife is away, that for twenty years now these fictions have provided a template for your life, and there is a reason that like, say, the tears you shared with your mother over repeated viewings of Terms of Endearment made you wish you were a girl so you could share the kind of a bond with your mother that Debra Winger shared with Shirley MacLaine, you’ve internalized the three evenings you’ve shared with these two people, they have become your new mythology, a paradigm by which you understand love and death and time and love. And love.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor