MAY / JUNE 2015: BY CARISSA HORTON
In a world of mad rushing to get things done, patience is very much a lost art. I have to contact this person now. I can’t wait for a week for the letter to be delivered, it must be now. We spend the majority of our time constantly plugged in, either through phones, laptops, tablets, or Bluetooth. Today is an instant gratification society.
So imagine if you had to wait. Not through any fault or decision of your own but simply because life threw you a curve ball and you had no choice. This is the life of Alex Wyler in The Lake House. A young architect, Alex moves back into the house of his youth, the one his father designed but always felt cold and imperious with no room for love or growth. The lake house is not everything it should be, but Alex yearns to take it and change it into something more, something better. He is a man of eternal optimism.
Then he receives a letter in his mailbox from the last tenant instructing the new one about the quirks of the house and explaining that the paw prints on the wooden walkway were there when she moved in. Now he’s puzzled. There are no paw prints on the wooden walkway. He writes her back saying as much, and thus begins a pen pal friendship with Kate Forster.
In an ordinary world with ordinary circumstances, letters are delivered via the mailman. In this scenario, however, the mailbox itself delivers them. Why? Alex and Kate do not share the same time. He lives in 2004, and Kate? Well, she lives in 2006. During a warmish day in 2006 and a coldish day in 2004, Alex and Kate stand in precisely the same spot, shoving scraps of hastily written bits of paper into the mailbox, trying to understand how this can even be happening. They never do reach a consensus as to the mechanics of the thing, but that doesn’t matter.
Soon, Alex is deeply in love with the woman on the other end of the mailbox. Seeking her out in 2004, Alex knows she is not the same woman as in her letters. But it’s enough to just see her. He picks up and reads the copy of Jane Austen’s Persuasion that she loved so much and accidentally left on the bench at a railway station. He’s the man she dances with at her engagement party and finds herself kissing. There is no going back for Alex. She is his one and only, so he urges her to meet him, in her time. Kate is the reluctant party, having already been burned in love. But she agrees. Except Alex never makes it to their appointed dinner, and she writes to tell him so. He can’t explain his absence. Her trust in him demolished, Kate breaks off their communication. He puts letters in the mailbox. No one answers. Kate is gone.
Of course, like 90% of romances ever filmed, The Lake House has a happy ending. But did you ever stop to think about the ramifications of being in love with someone 2 years ahead of you in time? Alex wants that Kate… the Kate who knows him. Not the Kate of his own time who is engaged to be married. His Kate freely admits in her letters that she doesn’t even remember what he looks like from their brief encounters 2 years previous. He simply floated in and out of her life, without a lasting impression.
Love is a remarkable thing when you are forced to wait. I’ve heard it said that oftentimes in relationships, one person loves more deeply than the other. I don’t know if it’s true or not, or how to even determine the worth of such a statement. But Alex had to wait. He spends 4 years waiting for the woman he loves, so he can hold her in his arms, hear her sweet voice, and look directly into her eyes. Who does that? Kate cut off their relationship. Once she realizes her mistake, it is almost too late. But for her the gratification is instant because she turns around and there he is. For him, it took 2 more years of waiting for that moment. The time differential was harder for him because he’s the one who had to do all the waiting.
It is profoundly symbolic that her favorite book is Persuasion. During her engagement party, she sneaks off to the back porch where she encounters Alex and they sit and discuss the book for a few moments. Persuasion is a story about patience. The heroine made a mistake in her youth, being persuaded by family and friends to send the hero away, and she must wait an entire 10 years to reconnect with him. It’s a tale of individual growth, strength, and maturity. In The Lake House perhaps the younger Kate would not have loved the younger Alex. Perhaps they would have made a poor match. They had to wait for the time to be right.
Out of all the romances I’ve ever seen, The Lake House remains steadfastly one of my favorites. I don’t care that the time differential in their lives doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t have to. It’s a story of enduring patience. Kate needed a romantic hero who would literally wait years for her. She needed that type of proof of his love, just as Alex was willing to give it because he could not imagine himself with anyone else. Kate was it for him, the ideal woman, and he would have waited forever if necessary. Fortunately, he didn’t have to, and their meeting is sweeter than any honey, and judging by the look in his eyes, well worth the wait. ◦
Carissa Horton spends her working hours at Compassion International whose tagline reads “Releasing Children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” She is an avid crafter, a prolific blogger on Musings of an Introvert about all things literary and film-based, and dreams of someday getting her stories published.