Phil Hoffman and I had two things in common. We were both fathers of young children, and we were both recovering drug addicts. Of course I’d known Phil’s work for a long time — since his remarkably perfect film debut as a privileged, cowardly prep-school kid in Scent of a Woman — but I’d never met him until the first table read for Charlie Wilson’s War, in which he’d been cast as Gust Avrakotos, a working-class CIA agent who’d fallen out of favor with his Ivy League colleagues. A 180-degree turn.
On breaks during rehearsals, we would sometimes slip outside our soundstage on the Paramount lot and get to swapping stories. It’s not unusual to have these mini-AA meetings — people like us are the only ones to whom tales of insanity don’t sound insane. “Yeah, I used to do that.” I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean.
So it’s in that spirit that I’d like to say this: Phil Hoffman, this kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor, who was never outwardly “right” for any role but who completely dominated the real estate upon which every one of his characters walked, did not die from an overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.
He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed — he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it. He’ll have his well-earned legacy — his Willy Loman that belongs on the same shelf with Lee J. Cobb’s and Dustin Hoffman’s, his Jamie Tyrone, his Truman Capote and his Academy Award. Let’s add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now.— Aaron Sorkin's obituary for Philip Seymour Hoffman in Time (via christinefriar)
I Forget What Love Feels Like
I forget what love feels like. That sounds overly dramatic, and it is. But hear me out. The last time I was in love was almost three years ago now. I remember being within love. I know that everyone experiences the state of love differently. For me it’s always been a very cerebral process of adding an asset to my life and then adapting to being plural by making the relationship better than both its parts. My brain does that by itself. That is not an effort that I wrote down years ago and then repeated due to overwhelming success. In fact, every relationship I’ve ever been in has failed. If you’re not currently in a relationship or married, every romantic relationship you have ever been within has failed. That’s one of my life hypotheses I always harp on along with white people being the worst kind of people hands down. Those are two of my strongest beliefs…..yeah. Come on over, ladies.
Let me get back to my initial point. If I was to act out a love scene right now, which in the future I will most likely have to do since I write films that have me in them and I use films to act out relationships I wished I had in the first place – so chances are I’ll have to act out being in love at some point in future, it would be just that. Acting. Acting is remembering, to me. Remembering that time you felt that feeling, extrapolating it, blowing it up, and then putting it back together with everything you have and performing those moments in time. And right now I’m having trouble remembering.
When I was in love I was a better person. Well, not better. Nicer. Yeah, I’ll go with nicer. My demeanor towards the world as a whole was brighter, at the very least. I am now three years out of love and my view of the world is filled with bird shit on the windshield that wasn’t there before. Turns out though, that most of the time I prefer the bird shit. It’s just those nasty moments before sleep where you can’t help but feel alone in the bed that is meant for two and only serves one. Those moments in time are easy to act out. I have memories of being alone that are from last night. Not a very far reach.
I’ll take it from another angle. My favorite love sense is touch, which is not my favorite life sense (smell, for those baby birds out there wondering.) The best way I can explain it is….Okay, here is the scenario.
You are in bed with your significant other. A person whose faults you’ve come to terms with. You wake up before them and they are facing the other direction. They moved a bunch during the night, hitting you in the face multiple times, but you love them so you resist the urge to beat them with a pillow in the dark. Their body figured out around 4am that it wanted to be the little spoon and it took that position against your will. That’s not the way you wanted to sleep, but you didn’t want to wake them up and you have to get up in a few hours anyway for something you don’t want to do, so you settle in as big spoon and fall back asleep. Now, you’re ass hole internal alarm wakes you up 10 minutes before the actual alarm goes off. You roll slightly to turn the future alarm off then your body rolls over to see their back. They didn’t put on a shirt the night before. It was warm when you two went to sleep. Now it’s cold and they are asleep but shivering. Their back is full of goose bumps. Your hand runs over their shoulder, feeling the bumps against your skin. The hair on their arms raise up to meet your touch. Their torso adjusts but they don’t wake up. You put your hand in between their shoulder blades and wait for your hand and their back to be the same temperature. Then you move your hand over to their arm to keep the part of their body the covers aren’t reaching warm and you watch the goose bumps fade away. You kiss the back of their neck and then slip out of bed as to not wake them. When you’re getting dressed they wake up and watch you without saying anything. Right as you’re about to leave they make fun of you for wearing that piece of clothing from your old life; the shirt or the shoes or the pants that scream “single and not trying to impress anyone.” Their reward for making fun of you is a kiss goodbye. You turn around halfway out the door and show them a tender spot on your face. “You did it again you know. I’m going to have a black eye and the entire world will know who did it. It was you, by the way. I don’t want to be coy about this, you beat me in your sleep, and I’m gonna hashtag the word beat when I tell Facebook what you’ve done.” Then they give you the finger and say “I love you” simultaneously.You say you love them too and now the rest your day is a countdown until you can love them in person again instead of looking in the mirror and poking your eye to remind yourself of how love is a particular kind of insanity that you can’t believe you’re lucky enough to be a part of.
That’s what love feels like to me. I can describe it in detail. I can act it out. But I can’t actually experience that moment right now.
Love is learning the shape of someone’s back.
Love is forgiving them for the terrible things they do in their sleep.
Love is learning the amount of noise you need to make to “accidentally” wake someone up before you leave for the day so that the last thing you do before you go is say goodbye. They will think it’s a coincidence it happens every time but it’s not. It’s only the byproduct of you not being able to live with the thought of it not happening.
Also sometimes, I mix up missing something with wanting something.