When I heard of James Gandolfini’s passing last night, I felt a very true, real sadness envelop me. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge Sopranos fan- all the violence, swearing and raunchiness was a bit TOO much for even me and my trucker mouth. But there was another reason I loved James Gandolfini. The original title I typed in for this entry was “James Gandolfini Helped Save My Marriage” but I felt like that was a bit much, even though it’s kind of true. See, I have thing for movies no one else seems to love or has ever seen. One of them happens to be The Mexican with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt from 2001. For some reason I have seen that film like 50 times and love it. I was so into Julia’s bohemian wardrobe and Brad’s tan and adorably disheveled look and the storyline of this mismatched pair on a wildly ridiculous romp through Mexico. But the most important and touching role was played by James Gandolfini- as a gay hitman with a tough exterior but a heart of gold. Something about the way he played that character really moved me…. even in a dorky comedy like this.
The most poignant scene to me though, is this one (watch it):
Many years ago I recall watching this over and over on cable during a very tough time in my marriage. Andrew and I are a little like Julia and Brad’s characters in that we are opposites– I am kind of uptight, and a raging perfectionist who likes stability. Andrew is a carefree risk-taker with an unfading entrepreneurial streak. What this means is that Andrew’s career has been one of high-high’s and low-low’s, as any spouse of an entrepreneur probably understands. As his wife, however, I craved the safety and security of a steady job that didn’t leave me wondering if I was going to see him walk through the door with a box of his office stuff at the end of the day… on any given day of the week. One year, my fear came true not once, but TWICE. He felt that I should understand that with start up ventures comes great risk but sometimes great reward. And I felt he should understand that the stress of this constant up and down was destroying me emotionally. He needed the ability to take risks and I needed a solid 401(k) and dental. We hit a roadblock that I wasn’t sure we’d be able to navigate around.
We talked about getting divorced very seriously. I had had enough. So had he.
And late one night during this time I was watching this movie (again) and this scene hit me HARD. Even though I was sick of crying, fighting and thought that maybe there was someone who would better suit my needs as a partner- I could not bring myself to leave. I simply COULD NOT DO IT. And it dawned on me that this is why- because when you love someone, truly love them, you never get to the point that enough is enough. Of course there are exceptions: violence, rampant infidelity and drug-abuse, for example, but when it’s simple things like a mismatched view on finances and bad communication- never. You never, ever get there. You don’t take that step out the door, you stay and fight.
This became my mantra. I looked at this man who was thoughtful, smart, supportive and funny and thought “we will just have to figure this out because this is it for us- we are in this for life”. It’s been a struggle, but it’s been amazing too. Andrew has pushed me to take more risks, like this business, and guess what- it DID pay off. He has taught me to loosen my white-knuckled grasp on my strict view of what happiness is or should be. In turn, I have reigned him in a bit, helped him focus and gotten him to appreciate the peace that can come with taking your time and not always going after the next best thing. We have brought a greater sense of balance to each other and have become better people for it- and I am so grateful that we never ever said “enough is enough”- it would have been the biggest mistake of my life.
So thanks, James, for that life-changing scene and may you rest in peace.