In Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s evocative directorial debut, 17-year-old Christine, the film’s eponymous lead faces a peculiar struggle that seems all too familiar. An opinionated high-schooler who goes about figuring ways to leave behind her mediocre life and transform into the person she dreams of becoming in her head, Christine also wallows incessantly in her grand idea of romance.
Christine, like most of us, isn’t just looking for love; she is actively trying to manufacture it. She views “the idea of someone” as a convenient prop that can metamorphose the aspirations, dreams, and desires marinating in her head into the constraints of reality. For Christine, her idea of someone is tasked with changing her life for the better.
Christine isn’t alone in her absolute devotion to this idea of someone. This notion swirling in her head is also not a mere byproduct of the restlessness of adolescence. Most of our romantic encounters, at any age, inevitably end up being tainted by the pre-conceived projections this idea of someone lavishly affords us.
The idea of someone comes into our lives when we least expect it; maybe when we come back to an empty house after a long, tiring day. We pour ourselves a glass of wine and settle into bed indulging ourselves in a Game of What If: What if we had someone to come back to? Instead of taking the effort to go through at least 4,83,0753 bad swipe lefts to find the one true swipe right, we conjure up our idea of someone.
Your idea of someone grants you a love so perfect that it almost seems made up.
From that moment on, your idea of someone becomes a double-edged sword. On one hand, it lulls you into a state of comfort when you remain at the pits of loneliness, and on the other hand, it’s the very reason for your loneliness in the first place. Because your idea of someone is in many ways, an impossible thing. Your idea of someone grants you a love so perfect that it almost seems made up.
Your idea of someone is tall, has the voice of your favourite singer and the body of Ryan Gosling from Crazy, Stupid, Love. Your idea of someone is a person who is understanding, open to changing himself, and extremely adaptive to your needs in a way that no partner has ever been. Your idea of someone doesn’t peddle jealousy or possessiveness; instead it’s made up of someone who won’t make you feel insecure unlike that guy who educated you in the art of gaslighting. Your idea of someone has a way with words that could put Shakespeare to shame, and snatch the Nobel Prize right from under Ishiguro’s nose. Most importantly, your idea of someone doesn’t snore, ask for nudes at inopportune times or disagree with you during arguments.
Your idea of someone is tall, has the voice of your favourite singer and the body of Ryan Gosling from Crazy, Stupid, Love
Before you know it, you’ve fallen head over heels in love with your idea of someone to such an extent that investing your emotions in a living, breathing romantic partner seems almost futile. Day after day, you make a habit out of latching on to the reliable companionship your idea of someone gifts you, until the day you end up meeting a person worthy of being your object of affection. Late-night texts turn to dates, which soon extend to a casual dalliance that over time strengthens its hold over you. At that point, the sole nemesis of your impending long-term relationship won’t be your partner’s loud snores, or that annoying habit of theirs that drives you crazy. Instead, it’ll be your irrationally pampered idea of someone.
In Lady Bird, Christine’s “someone” turns out to be Danny, the lead in the school play in which she serves a minor part. She is enamoured with him for the boundless possibilities of an aspirational future he can offer, which is precisely why she foregoes seeing Danny – who refuses to go beyond kissing and is later caught kissing a boy – for what he is. For, Christine is way too embroiled in the rewarding idea of Danny to discern that the Danny she ends up with is no good for her. Before it gets too late.
Just like Christine, even the best of us choose the deceitful comfort of our idea of someone over compromising it for a romantic partner, who doesn’t even come close to resembling any of the attractive Ryans. In doing so, we unknowingly sound a slowly ticking death knell on our romantic relationships which over time succumbs under the weight of uncontainable resentment.
The person goes. The relationship ends. But, the idea of someone remains.