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Illustration: Alex Stallsworth · The Sentry

Love, Actually 

Photo: Taelar Pollmann · The Sentry

think it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced a time in our life where we couldn’t exactly put into words what we were feeling. I’ve always associated this experience with love. To feel love is what I can only describe as complex, but not even that word does love justice. I can paint a picture for you about the guttural feeling you get as butterflies float and flutter in the pits of your belly or make you hear the snap and shatter of your heart falling by the pieces as it breaks. But what has always fascinated me about love and relationships is when they fail because I can never explain to you the how or the why. 

When love fails, the outcome is always the same, but the experiments are always different; and I don’t think anyone has found the variable that connects them together. Truthfully, I don’t think there are words that can be strung together to replicate what it feels like to fall out of love, but I do believe good writing can come close. 

Ironically, I’ll attribute this good writing to Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story and Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” I think it’s Baumbach’s and Carver’s use of very few words to say so much about love and relationships that I admire because it’s writing that you have to come back to in order to pick up on things you might’ve missed.

It becomes an exploration of piecing together mannerisms, gestures, the use of silence, and facial expressions, in order to develop a full picture. Once you do, you rationalize why the characters reacted or felt a certain way and start to understand why they said the things they did because you couldn’t have said it better yourself. 

If you’d ask me now, I still couldn’t adequately tell you why Scarlett Johansson’s character fell out of love with Adam Driver’s character in the first place (mostly because I think her character is still in love with him); but I can reference the final scene in Carver’s story to give you an idea: The friends sit in complete darkness. The sun has gone, as have their rosy, hopeful perceptions of love. 

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