“If there is pain, nurse it. And if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out. Don’t be brutal with it. We rip out so much of ourselves of be cured of things faster, that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty. But to make yourself feel nothing so as to not feel anything–what a waste!Mr. Perlmann
Sometimes I find myself staring out of windows inside buildings at my university short of breath. Generally when this happens, I am thinking about Call me by Your Name. I was entranced with the cinematography of the film when I first watched it last summer. I only got the chance to watch half of it before my baby sister woke up from her nap. She may have only been two, but I still felt a little uncomfortable having her watch a movie with such adult content.
Call me by Your Name resonates with me, as I’m sure it does most people, because I relate so heavily to the themes and the feelings Elio is experiencing. He is falling in love, truly, for the first time. It is innocent and explicit all at the same time. We go from scenes of Elio and Oliver playing footsie under the breakfast table to Oliver giving Elio a blowjob to tease him after they have sex. This complicated dynamic captures the essence of romance among young people.
What really struck me was the similarities it had with my first same-sex relationship. We became close quickly and didn’t really experience a period of awkwardness. We confessed our feelings for one another over a school break and joked that when we were back together it would be a “sexual time bomb” going off. The chemistry was strong and our personalities drew toward one another. We, like Elio and Oliver, had to find ways to be intimate in our houses with parents.
She and I felt like we were adults. We could make our own decisions. We were mature enough to know the limits to our relationship. Sex was so natural between us that it seemed like that was what the basis of an adult relationship should be.
The film goes through the honeymoon phase of these two men. They are experiencing the best of one another. If they have an argument, it is small, and they are desperate to fix the problem and return to the intoxicating feeling they are accustomed to.
The honeymoon phase is such a euphoric time, especially for young couples. You feel more comfortable with your significant other than you ever thought you could feel in front of another human being. Every kiss feels like the first and you spend almost every second of every day thinking about them. This is also the time (in my experience) where the mannerisms, habits, and scents of your S.O. become ingrained in your memory.
When I was dating my ex-girlfriend, she used a particular perfume every time we hung out, and she only used it when she was hanging out with me. It was a gorgeous floral scent that has infiltrated my memories of her. I have a bottle, and whenever I accidentally use it before school, I either find myself broken down in tears or uncharacteristically angry.
Now, the scene from Call me by Your Name that I think about most is, obviously, the apricot scene. I think it is the epitome of what a relationship is. Oliver is poking light fun at Elio, keeping a sense of humor over an act that is totally natural. It is normal for young people coming of age to use objects to help manipulate their masturbation. Elio, of course, is embarrassed as any guy his age would be after being caught.
I smirk at the scene and can imagine being in both of their shoes. In my relationship, I was the oldest, but she had more experience than I did dating people of the same sex. It was a give and take, as is with any relationship.
The feelings I get after watching Call me by Your Name can be best described as empty. I feel like my entire being has been ripped out and that others truly understand the pains I have experienced. We felt something, as Mr. Perlmann would put it, and I would not change it for the world.