had a quietly fabulous time with Jules Monday night. The scheduled Event of the evening was to watch Before Sunset
together. I had bought that DVD and my copy of Before Sunrise
with her back in December of 2006, and sweat through the break in not watching them on my own, to save the experience for her. I had seen them a few years earlier, and then had rented and watched them again in November and absolutely been floored by them in a way I hadn't been before. But for one reason or another, whenever Julie and I hung out, we were doing something else. So I didn't get a chance to watch Before Sunrise
with her until a few months ago, and Before Sunset
finally happened last night.
When I got over to their place, though, she and Jackie were in the midst of their stare-at-the-accident fascination with The Bachelorette
, and so things had to be postponed for an hour while they filled me in on that piece of reality TV nonsense, which has long been their personal cocaine. So that had us laughing and talking bizarre dating dynamics, while Julie caught me up on her news here and there. We took some time there, as she filled me in on some things she wanted to talk with me about, and it proved, in a way, to be an interesting jumping-off point to the film: to move from real couple dynamics to a well-done fictional one in a kind of extreme setting, but then to use the fictional narrative to come back to the real one later in the night. She's been around the Theatre program enough that she's one of my favourite people to watch anything with, and she was technically taken with the film right away, marveling at how tight the narrative was, which was gratifying. I was surprised to have her say that she thought she preferred the second one: I wouldn't have been surprised to hear that after further viewings, but Before Sunrise
is such a charmer of a masterpiece that it can leave the more complicated Before Sunset
to seem less attractive by comparison, at least at first, I suspect. But I think the realism of that complexity appealed to her, though she felt ambiguous about some of the character flaws revealed in that complexity, like the question of fidelity raised by Jesse and Celine's situation.
So we worked our way through the Chianti and through some talk on the logic of fidelity, of what the human mind or spirit needs in that commitment. We didn't actually tie it into her upcoming research as she starts her Psychology Ph.D. at Stony Brook, but now as I'm typing this up, it strikes me that that might make for an interesting project in light of her focus on cognition itself. Playing the part of a theologian, that made me talk about what seemed to me to be the pure functionality of classic Christian sexual ethics, that they were not taboo-based but based on a pretty common-sense, observational reaction ingrained human psychological drives, although probably articulated in terms of "natural law" theory, but ultimately meaning the same thing. As usual, the conversation seemed to be just getting really going when I had to duck out if I was going to catch the last bus before the city system shut down at 2am. M
y social streak continued last night, then, when I got together with Diane for dinner. She jumped at the chance to picnic, since she and Tim don't really get the chance with their conflicting work hours. So we went over to Metro Market and walked around the produce and deli sections, putting together a few salady things for her, and grabbing some bread and fruit and fried chicken for me. We decided to forego wine and to instead grab local soda: her pouncing on a Sprecher's Kola and me, when I inexplicably found no non-diet Sprecher's Root Beer available, grabbing a Point Root Beer instead, which I'd been meaning to try, anyway, and which proved to be well above average in quality.
We left the car parked there, after she showed me how her recent car accident in the nearby intersection went down, and we strolled over to Lake Michigan, grabbing a picnic table over by the Solomon Juneau statue where we had a great view of the sailboats playing in the light of the setting sun. Seeing those, I instantly regretted not having my camera. Amid lots of purely fun talk and laughing, it was really cool to hear something of how she's getting a sense of growing as a writer through her writing job for Discovery World
, and how even what would seem to be straightforward factual or scientific writing could give her a chance to engage in unexpected creative exercises, such as her assignment to describe all the species of fish in a particular display as though she was writing wine reviews. Watching the sailboats made me recall the fun of learning to sail and windsurf with Richard Grainger in the Sailing I camp my first year at LOMC
, and the thrill of getting away from the kids during our break and racing Sunfish against one another, standing off the gunwale with backs arched out over the water, straining to keep the boats running as fast before the wind as we could without the sails flipping us over. Diane and I both thought that it would be fabulous to go out on Discovery World's schooner
, which neither of us had done, and she told a funny story of waiting for a particular appointment on day, and running into a strapping, gorgeous guy who she (brightly) asked if he was the person she was expecting, only to find out, in his rich English accent that, no, he was the chef on board the schooner, leaving her thinking "Of course you are!" and laughing about this vision of all the mancandy staffing the sailing vessel that she never got to go near in her work at the place.
As we finished the last of our food, we strolled down Juneau Park to the older, upper part of the Art Museum
, to see if we could get out on the deck overlooking the water, which I had only really noticed for the first time from the picnic table. That was locked down, and we debated whether it was worth climbing the fence and getting caught now, or whether to save that for a different time. We went back around the front, peered in through the window at a model of a PT boat
, so then I gave a brief history of PT 109
, which I assumed it was, and privately marveled at how my fourth grade war histories were still floating around in my head. We settled onto a spot where we overlooked the Calatrava addition
to the Musuem, leaning on the top of a wall, Peanuts
-style, and Diane asked about some of what the looming application process looked like, after I had told her about getting a feeler for a systematic theology position from Pittsburg's Duquesne University
, which I was kind of theo-geekily delighted to see was actually named Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit, who I happen to find very cool. So, moving eventually to sit at the foot of the Lincoln statue, I tried to make sense of that process, as well as marveling in general the simple fact that it's coming, while we also talked here-and-there of the architecture that we liked as we looked northward across the park at the old Cudahy Building and the new high-rises in the neighbourhood. The older buildings, with their penthouses six or eight stories above the street were the ones that caught my eye more, though we also laughed about the idea of dressing up and posing as through we were thinking of buying one of the new condos, "modestly priced between $649,000 and $2,499,000," just so that we could get in and eyeball them.
Diane led me down Kilbourn a few blocks and then turned down to a cute, quiet place I'd never noticed before on Cass and Wells called Buckley's Kiskeam Inn
, we finished up the night sitting out at the sidewalk table with a pomegranate martini for her and a Syrah for me, just talking over our current events, and looking back over the last year at how much had changed over that time. Good times. Tonight, by contrast, I think will be largely devoted to laundry.