Language Lessons

Trailer (but don’t watch it):

I don’t have conversations like that anymore.

I don’t think anybody my age has conversations like that anymore.

Growing up is weird. Because you don’t realize you’re doing it. Oh, you’re eager, to hit double digits, to be a teenager, to have your twenty first birthday, to graduate from college, but after that it all runs together, the years keep passing, your features change, but you don’t realize it. Oh, in retrospect you’re aware, but on an everyday basis? No.

Your twenties.

It’s about having a real relationship, maybe your first, certainly your first out from under the wings of your parents. You’re making your own money, you’re living independently, you might be focused on your “career,” but really it’s all about friendships and love relationships in your twenties.

The first change is when you graduate from high school. So many of those people you never see again, even your best friends fade away. You develop new friends at college, and some of those sustain, but really it’s about the new people you know, who you have relationships with for years, maybe not love relationships, but friendships, that may not seem as deep as the ones you had in college, but these people you can depend upon, they come through for you, unless you’re a bad picker of friends.

Oh, you can be one of those who accumulates friends, who feels good about themselves because their Rolodex is full, but in truth, one good friend is enough. You know, the one you call when your parent dies. The one who knows who you are. The one who’ll be there for you.

But not enough people have this friend.

Or let me say they got older and the game changed and…

People start to get married, they peel off. And if you’re not married too, if you’re alone, you may still get invited, you may still get calls, but you’re an outsider, sometimes you’re invited but you don’t even want to go, because you don’t want to impose, you don’t want to feel like a fifth wheel.

And then those people have babies and make a whole new set of friends. And then so many of them get divorced.

Meanwhile, you’ve found your own path. Or maybe you haven’t. You don’t want to end up alone. I wish more people knew this. The older you get, the less meaningful the game becomes, it’s all about shared experiences, even more that there’s someone there for you, who’ll listen to you.

Everybody’s going through changes, it’s rare that people are on the same page as they age, until they get older, truly old. I’ll put that at 67. There’s no way that number is not old, you can’t convince yourself otherwise. For some reason 66 is different. 60 is bad in its own right, because that’s when you learn the game is b.s., you’ve seen the trick, you realize you’re going to die and what happens in between birth and death better be important to you, because it’s unimportant to everybody else.

There are people who think getting plastic surgery, dressing in young clothing, hanging with young people makes them young, but this is a lie. Because biology doesn’t know any of this. You may say forty is the new thirty, or sixty is the new forty, but in truth forty is forty and sixty is sixty.

But the dirty little secret is your perspective changes whether you want it to or not.

So, in your twenties you’re free and easy. You dread thirty, which ends up not being that bad, and for a couple of years thereafter you’re cool, but then you can see forty on the horizon, do you really want to hit that alone, do you want to have a baby, do you want to..?

But in your twenties you’re feeling it out. You stop feeling it it out in your late thirties and by time you hit the fifties, that paradigm starts to truly wither.

You want to get to know people, you want to connect, you want to know what life is about. And this is different from staying up all night b.s.’ing in college. Because now the stakes are real. And since you realize no one is paying attention, no one is keeping score, that there are no more grades, your life is ever more private. Even in the era of social media. What you share with another person… That magic is only between the two of you.

And you know when it happens.

Sometimes you feel the spark but it doesn’t catch fire, or the kindling starts to flame but then burns out. Keeping the fire going is not easy, and it’s all about sharing, being honest. And if you can’t do this, you’ll never have a relationship, at least not a satisfying one. Can you appear weak? Can you put forth your hopes and desires? Can you admit your failures…

There’s a whole language involved.

It starts with looks, and touch. And I don’t mean beauty, what I mean is the look the other person gives you, that they’re paying attention to you, that they’re connected.

And then you go exploring. And it’s a bumpy road. It’s dreamy at first, but everybody comes to connection with baggage. You can keep it light for a while, but then when you get down to the real nitty-gritty… A lot of people are hesitant, for the engine of the relationship to continue to purr one person has to continue to push, oftentimes self-consciously, drag the other person forward, keep them involved. And you keep building and building and…

Sometimes it flames out. Sometimes the fire is gone, but you stick together, endure the inertia, because it’s too scary to break up and go it alone, try to find someone better.

This sharing, this connection, is life. And you so rarely see it in today’s art. This is what the movies USED to be about. And you occasionally see it in streaming TV. This is what music was built upon, but braggadocio and saccharine narratives have superseded songs straight from the heart.

So I mentioned the Duplass brothers last week, and someone e-mailed me that I had to see “Language Lessons,” that it was on HBO Max.

We finally finished “Golden Life,” and it was too late to start another series, so we dove in.

All the values in today’s movies…absent. All the production values, the special effects, the whiz-bang…gone. As a matter of fact, most of the film takes place over the internet, via Skype, or Facetime, it’s not exactly clear, but it doesn’t make a difference.

I always want to know who someone is. That’s the most important thing to me. That’s why I prefer to talk to girls, because they’ll reveal their story, they’re comfortable digging down deep. Guys? WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW? Although you’d be surprised what guys will tell you if you ask and don’t interrupt, people love to talk about themselves.

And usually the connection happens when you don’t expect it.

This movie is about the connection between Adam and Cariño. It’s bumpy, but so is real life, fast and slow. But while you’re watching your mind will drift to your own experiences, you’ll see your whole life laid out, you’ll jump from age to age. I saw my thirtieth, fortieth and fiftieth birthdays. I saw how I was different. I’m different now. If for no other reason than the glass is truly less than half full.

And most people my age…

They don’t even want to go out. There’s too much traffic, it’s a hassle, it’s too crowded. Whereas when you’re in your twenties, you live to go out. You’re dying to meet new people. You’re eating up life.

But even if you stay this way, other people do not.

Sure, there are some couples who stick together and appear to cruise, but if you get them to open up, you’ll find out that their marriage has been far from smooth, or is laden with problems that one of the partners may not even see.

And then there’s tragedy. Not only do your parents die, but sometimes your friends. Everything is so random. And those who don’t pay attention and take care of themselves…

You can live without health insurance in your twenties and get away with it. But after that?

And without insurance, without dental appointments, there’s attrition on the body, and like Warren Zevon you may find out too late that your demise is imminent. And bodies are like cars, they’re not made to last forever. Yours is gonna break down, they all do.

Yes, you wake up one day and you realize life has moved on. Hell, Mark Duplass is now in his forties, he’s got gray hair, he’s no longer the young sprite. There comes a time when you can no longer be the new thing. There’s always someone younger who comes along to replace you. We’re all gonna be replaced. And we’re gonna take so many of our icons and cultural references with us. You used to care about the stars, now you don’t even know who the people on the cover of the magazines are. Then again, in the internet era, most people don’t know who they are!

But to watch “Language Lessons” is to feel alive. To feel human. To be optimistic. To know that the loss of a person is so much more devastating than it’s usually portrayed, both on screen and off. Because like I said, most people only have one, and when that one person goes, not only are they gone, but so is your main artery of support.

So I’m watching “Language Lessons” and it’s not always riveting, then again, neither is real life. And you’re not quite sure where it’s going, which is also like real life. But the twists and turns tug at you, you become invested, and when it was all over, I turned to Felice and said THAT WAS AMAZING!

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