A Love Affair that Didn’t Happen: Still Unforgettable

Love Affair poster

It’s never a good idea to start a new calendar year with old regrets.  I try my best to forgive and make amends for the past, but then something crops up and starts my head reeling.  Last night I watched the Hollywood classic, “Love Affair” (aka “An Affair to Remember”), starring Irene Dunn and Charles Boyer.  If you’re a woman most likely you already know the plot of this movie.

An American woman Terry McKay (Irene Dunn) meets a French playboy-celebrity Michel Marnet (Charles Boyer) on a steamship heading from Europe to America.  On route these two characters keep bumping into each other as if two magnets drew them together, but I think the screenwriters were reflecting on the destiny of two star-crossed lovers bent on fulfilling the laws of synchronicity.  The problem that both of these characters face is that they’re both engaged to others, who they actually don’t wish to marry.  So they make a pact that to meet in six months on the Empire State Building viewing deck.  Is this story starting to sound familiar yet?

So six months go by in which Terry and Michel leave their fiancées, start new lives, and make plans to meet at the arranged place, but on the day of the meeting, Terry is hit by a car leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.  Instead, of finding Michel and informing him of her tragedy or having someone else do this for her, she decides to wait another six months to see if she recovers from the accident—only she doesn’t.  Without giving the ending away, Michel waited for Terry at the designated spot and when she didn’t arrive, (he waiting until midnight during an electrical storm), he grows bitter not just toward Terry, but to all women.  He closes his heart.

Irene Dunn, what a dame!

Another aspect of this movie, the synchronicity part, Michel tells Terry when they’re still aboard the ship and arriving in New York, that if a person wishes hard for something both in their heart and mind, that wish will manifest (sounds like creative visualization).  And later when Terry works with orphans as a music director, she teaches the children a song with this theme, “Wishing,” which plays a key role in the outcome of the movie, and subsequent romantic movies that have been seen in recent years, “Sleepless in Seattle,” comes to mind.

Okay, so here’s my story that “Love Affair” brought back to my attention.  When I was 22 years old, I participated in a student exchange in Saint Catharine, Ontario.  When I left Seattle, I was under the impression (I was so naïve back then), that I was involved with a drummer that I had met earlier that summer.  Little did I know he was just toying with my heart and though it seemed like destiny’s magnets drew the two of us together, he wasn’t actually interested in me, at least not in a mature manner.  Meanwhile, I met a German exchange student in Ontario who I felt powerfully attracted to and thought I could just be friends with him.

I believe he was the only man I ever met in my life where time stopped when I spoke with him.  Yeah, I know, that sounds so cliché but I have no better way to describe it.  Something about this man’s eyes seem to draw me in and his words felt like flames to my heart—in a good way. (He also reminded me of David Bowie).  I kept running into him and in fact, it was like I couldn’t avoid him even if I wanted to, but then after he invited me to a party which took place after a snow storm, everything fell apart.  I was unable to make that party.  I couldn’t get around in the snow and I didn’t have a ride to the party.  And next time I saw the German he gave me the cold shoulder.  He closed his heart and wouldn’t listen to anything I told him.  My guess is that someone told him about the drummer in Seattle and so he thought I was unfaithful.  I just couldn’t get through to him and that’s the tragedy.

Brock University, St. Catharines, ONT

So years went by and I still thought of this German.  I wondered where he was, what he did with his life, and if he kept his passion for Germany’s Green Party (which he told me about) in his heart.  Did he ever think of me without bitterness in his heart? And why did he react so strongly when he and I weren’t even in a relationship?

In the mid-1990s I found an old journal in which I had written his name.  But I only had his first name which was of little use to me.  Then I forgot about him after that until I watched that movie last night.  However, here’s my view on the situation.  I wasn’t mature enough at 22 to have a soul-to-soul, deeply profound relationship.  Our two souls came together at the wrong time and if that’s the case, then we weren’t meant to have a relationship anyway.  So then why am I still thinking about this man?

If he ever reads this, I hope he contacts me, not so we can start something, but so that he can forgive me, for whatever he thought I had done or not done.  I would like to know what all that stuff from my 22nd year on earth (in this lifetime) was about.  And most of all, I want to know that the German man found happiness and fulfilled or is fulfilling his life mission.  I want him to know that I still think of him now and again; I still feel affection for that moment in time when we met.

Yeah, I think there’s a story in all of this—another short romantic fiction piece.  And how many others have similar stories, the love that never bloomed, the near misses, and the roads left behind, and those ugly regrets.  I’m only sorry that life has its own agenda and it hardly ever works in my favor. I’ve always been unlucky in love and I accept this as my karmic debt.