The Holiday, Unrequited Love and What’s On The Table

This article was originally published on January 7th, 2017

Over the Christmas break I did what most twenty-something’s do at this time of year: I watched The Holiday.

You know the one.

It’s the one where Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz agree to swap houses for the holidays in order to escape their misfortunes in love. The one with the Los Angeles mansion straight out of Architectural Digest and the idyllic cottage in the English country side. The one where Jude Law is still in his prime (there I said it).

It’s a film I’ve seen more times than I care to count and every single time I watch it the same things win me over: Jack Black’s dorky sense of humour, Kate Winslet’s enviable British accent, Cameron Diaz’s more enviable skin (zero pores, zero un-wanted body hair), and Jude Law’s everything. I even fall for the impossible ease in which two relatively normal women fall head over heels in love with complete strangers in the space of two weeks.

But for reasons unknown, there was something about the movie that just didn’t stick this time around. As I watched Kate Winslet’s character loose a sizeable chunk of her identity nursing the unrequited love she felt for her colleague, Jasper – an infatuation so severe she may as well have had a flu with no known cure, I just wasn’t buying it. Here was this beautiful, intelligent, articulate and compassionate woman who had spent the better part of four years crying over someone she claimed she “could not have”. And let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? Jasper was a cocky, curly-haired (not in the good way) Englishmen who didn’t even know the value of a Kate Winslet when he was standing right in front of one! Leonardo Dicaprio literally died for his Kate Winslet on the Titanic, and this Jasper loser couldn’t have cared less.

I think the part that bothered me the most was that Kate had put Jasper on such a high pedestal before he was even off the market and engaged to someone else. Kate had made up in her mind that, no matter the circumstances, someone like her was not worthy of someone like him. And then when Jasper finally announced his engagement to the office bimbo, Kate crumbled and fled the country (!!!).

I refute that.

And yet, we are all guilty of doing it. Taking someone off the table before they’ve even had a chance to be on it. We did it with the tall guy at school socials with the best smile. We did it with the guy who dated girls that wore sports bras instead of baggy tee shirts at the gym. The guy with the green eyes who moved to London to play guitar. The one that surfed who you could never make eye contact with. Because if he looked at you long enough he might figure out what you were thinking. They were all guys who, at one point or another, were single and available and yet we still believed the table was empty.  We do it all the damn time. Putting the ones we want on pedestals and then feeling sorry for ourselves for how out of reach they are. It’s self-inflicted-unrequited love. Subjecting ourselves to the cruel act of wanting someone we’ve decided to be so unattainable, without the person in question even realising.

But here’s the thing. If we take ourselves out of the running, don’t we lose by default?

Header image by Wono Kim for The Twenties Club