Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Dark House

There we were, the ex-husband and I. We were in a small chapel. People were milling about. There was nowhere to sit, and so we sat by each other. He slipped me some kind of note or paperwork. He panicked for a moment, thinking the papers he had given to his partner were the ones he'd meant for me. He wanted us to get back together, and it was still a secret. He had his wife and his children to think of, but we'd been sneaking around, he and I, meeting for lunch and for sex. I had my own guilt to deal with. I was going to have to break the news to the man who loves me. Tell him that I might be getting back together with my ex-husband.

And then I woke up, thank god. Feeling guilty and weird that I'd dreamed such a thing. That's what I get for watching Bergman's "Scenes from a Marriage"home alone.

I first saw the movie in the mid-70s not long after moving to L.A. I saw it with my ex-husband--who was just my boyfriend then. In my memory it was all shot in close-up in a white room, the lights blaring into the faces of the husband and wife, their tight smiles dissolving into loathing. I didn't care for it much back then. I had no idea, I suppose, how people who appeared so happy on the surface, could be swirling in so much subterranean turmoil. It was utterly fascinating this time around. I had to turn it off for a bit after the scene where Marianne calls her friend to tell him that Johann has left her. He already knows--had known for quite a while that Johann was planning it. My own humiliation came back to me, so palpable and present, that I got up from my chair and stood in the bathroom doorway wondering if in a second I'd be kneeling on the tile in front of the toilet. But I was okay. It was good to be reminded, in a way, of my debilitating un-doing. To contrast then with now. To see where the path began and where my feet are planted now.

As for Marianne and Johann and their dark night in a dark house where they lay in bed cheating on their present spouses, that's not a house I ever want to inhabit. That house burned down, and nothing will rise from its ashes.


Elizabeth said...

I remember that movie and don't entertain the thought of seeing it again. But I remember thinking it was brilliant. Another good one to review might be "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." That one is so deliciously horrible and fantastic.

It's wild that you had such a physical reaction to a scene in a movie -- wild how art affects us and how tuned in our bodies are to memory.

I hope you feel some peace today, looking out on the foggy ocean --

Anonymous said...

I have a similar nightmare. I'm in Windows of the World, at the top of the World Trade Center, being courted by a very attentive man in a tux. I know he's about to propose, then the camera slowly pans round to his face and it's my ex. I always wake in utter fear. But then I remember, it is just a nightmare. Thank goodness.

Wrinkling Daily said...

Thank God it was just a dream. You had me worried there.

Jules said...

What a nightmare! Been there, done that, probably do it again. Can't control your dreams...