Nobody Lies About Being Lonely

“Nobody ever lies about being lonely.”

The words leapt off the screen at me as I watched From Here to Eternity for the first time last night. Beyond the cinematic beauty of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr making sand- and sea-filled love on the beach, this rather quiet look at complicated people triggered a sweet concoction of sadness, nostalgia, longing, and reflection inside me.

But that’s what good stories do. They connect.

In each of the characters I saw reflections of my own personality and past. The determination to stick to a preconceived plan, no matter how shallow, simply because it was the original plan. The fleeting magic of lust crashing into love with few words needed to express the deepest, most turbulent of emotions. The pain of separation and longing for something one knows deep down truly can not be. The commitment to one’s own definition of “right” whether it lines up with others’ ideals or not. The comfort found in conformity.

Wanting what one should not. Choosing to reach for it anyway.

Wanting what one should not. Choosing to reach for it anyway.

 

The similarities I saw of myself in both of the main female characters were unsettling yet comforting. It made me feel not alone in my twisting path of firm decisions with the caveat that I’m always allowed to change my mind. Until it’s too late of course. Because you can only trapse down a path so far before reaching the point of no return. What stops that turn could be one’s own tolerance for pain. Or, more likely, the unwillingness to hurt the ones one loves.

In a scene two thirds into the film Alma, a beautiful woman working at a private gentleman’s club, explains why she isn’t going to marry Prew, an infantryman in the army. The dialog goes like this:

Alma: Because nobody’s going to stop me from my plan. Nobody, nothing. Because I want to be proper!

Prew: Proper?

Alma: Yes, proper! In another year I’ll have enough money saved. Then I’m going to go back to my home town in Oregon, and I’m going to build a house for my mother and myself, and join the country club and take up golf. Then I’ll meet the proper man with the proper position, to make a proper wife, and can run a proper home and raise proper children. And I’ll be HAPPY because when you’re PROPER you’re SAFE!

Prew: You’ve got guts, honey. I hope you can pull that off.

Alma: I do mean it when I say I need you. ‘Cause I’m lonely. You think I’m lying, don’t you?

Prew: Nobody ever lies about being lonely.

 

Prew and Alma.

Prew and Alma.

I understood this on so many levels. The desire for safety being her driving force in life, even at the sacrifice of love and passion. His incredulousness at her choice. The irreconcilable poles from which they both were operating. That sometimes there is no answer. That sometimes there is only the present.

The older I get the more I am beginning to accept that the stories that touch me the most are not the ones with happy endings. In my own life I see a series of beautiful moments—these little time capsules of perfection—that I hold tight in my memories. I don’t get to stay in those moments. I have to keep moving. And sometimes that means I’ll be lonely.

Prew was right. That’s not something anybody ever lies about.

I know what this feels like. Being in the moment and looking to the future knowing that no matter how perfect that moment is, it simply can not last.  Pictured: Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in a scene from FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, 1953.

I know what this feels like. Being in the moment and looking to the future knowing that no matter how perfect that moment is, it simply can not last.
Pictured: Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in a scene from FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, 1953.


P.S. This is my 400th post. That seems a significant milestone somehow. Thank you all for staving off the lonely.

27 thoughts on “Nobody Lies About Being Lonely

  1. Unfortunately, this one hit a spot with me…. guess because I am older… lol. No, no one lies about being lonely. Too often we try to hide it, but a discerning person can tell if they pay attention.

  2. I can relate to this SO much. Especially the last bit about being in a moment that you know cannot last, but being so happy in that moment and knowing that has to be enough. I hate that its not enough.

    Now I need to watch this movie you speak of. Is it available for streaming on netflix?

  3. This is a pretty hard hitting post. I’m a fan of old movies, too. Old Brando one’s are always great. I’m sure everyone can see lots of themselves in this post. Sometimes you can just so hit the nail on the button, Marian. This one’s a keeper

    Mike.

  4. I warthed that movie years ago while married. I dont remember specifics except that it made me uncomfortable and angry. Something to do with mystifying decisions? I dunno. Its all a blur now. I like your take much better. xx

    • Yes. I can see how that could be a reaction. It doesn’t “solve” anything. And we expect that in our stories. A wrap up. Not here. It’s a slice of tragic life. With beauty interlaced. Much like reality.

  5. This may be of little comfort to your nether regions and soul, Marian, but you’ll NEVER be alone.
    Your followers are devoted friends who will never leave you twisting in the wind.
    Merry Christmas, beautiful.

  6. Oh, sometimes we lie. We lie to preserve dignity. We lie because we are afraid. We lie because we think admitting the truth might make us look needy or weak. We lie because to tell the truth might put a chink in our armor.

    Sure we lie sometimes.

    Loved this one, it hit very close to home.

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