ATTENTION! The following article may contain SPOILERS for The Time Traveler’s Wife.
Living love as an eternal wait, savoring only those fleeting moments that are granted. This is the choice facing Claire, perhaps not even really able to choose if we want to believe the idea of destiny and soul seekers. Perhaps, in fact, Claire you’ve never really had a choice, since she, as a child, had an extraordinary encounter in a clearing with a man from the future. Inexplicably attracted to that man, it is as if Claire ends up playing a role that someone else has written for her: that of modern Penelope who will wait, without alternatives, for the constant return of her time traveler Ulysses.
A little girl who still knows nothing of the world, let alone of love and its innumerable sharp splinters, finds herself forever linked to the mysterious and fascinating Henry who, over time, assumes the role of friend, confidant, lover and husband. . Divided by his genetic disease that involuntarily makes him a time traveler, the loving couple lives the relationship in a non-linear way without ever really knowing each other. If the older Henry matures by virtue of his love for Claire, the latter since childhood has been waiting for someone who doesn’t exist yet, modeling the image of the ideal man and even of herself on this Henry of the future.
And this is one of the many metaphors that The Time Traveler’s Wife offers us in a sci-fi key to talk to us about love. In fact, for better or for worse, we create an ideal image of the person we love, rightly or wrongly. A perfect simulacrum that pushes us to see the other with eyes full of enchantment and without the necessary rationality to show it to us in its entirety. At least that’s what happens at the beginning of a relationship, when two people meet and discover each other for the first time, in that tightrope dance where we tend to want to show only the “best” of ourselves. This dance, Henry and Claire dance all their lives. At any moment of time, except for brief periods, they are never the same version of themselves, such that they can actually grow together along the same time track.
To continue using the same metaphor, it is as if our protagonists meet on different tracks, forced to learn something about each other all over again. Claire and Henry have a grotesque first date, forever. Perhaps this is the only element that makes the story of the two lovers emotionally immature, however tragic. They are not allowed the boring everyday life of choosing what to eat for dinner, which movie to watch on the sofa or who gets to take out the garbage. Their relationship is based on constant absences that interrupt the monotony but also prevent them from enjoying the simplicity of the moments. Every quarrel corresponds to a reconciliation, to every tear shed a kiss of comfort on the lips, to every misunderstanding a complicit laugh. None of this exists in the relationship of the time traveler and his wife.
The TV series reserves us some of the most moving scenes concerning time travel but it is certainly not the only one.
There is another metaphor that the series tells us with extreme delicacy and poetry: that of all condemned love.
The story of Claire and Henry becomes the story of every relationship, of every love forced to end sooner or later. Because “happily ever after” is just an illusion, a cleverly devised marketing ploy to sell the eternal love package: marriage and happiness all included. Reality is not so poetic at all and it is perhaps in that tragic narrative of the past that the truth is hidden. Every love, big or small, is destined to end. Even a whole life spent with the person we love is only one life in the end. What the TV series then wants to show us, albeit using a sci-fi ploy, is that what really matters is living in the present. It’s the “nows” that matter and how we experience them with our loved one. A now that can last a month, a year, ten or even fifty but the substance does not change. It’s not the “forever” that fills the day or the promises spoken in a low voice, it’s the gestures and the time spent together that makes love precious.
And when it ends, sooner or later, the important thing will be the memory of that love lived, of that shared everyday life that gave value to every single moment. All six episodes of the TV series are available on Sky On Demand.