Love is Strange

Em and I spent Valentine’s Day moving in together.

As in, officially.

We’ve shared space before, but never called it ‘moving in’, and we’ve never not each had our own personal boltholes. But with Swallow (my boat) sold and both of us out of town for big chunks of 2015, it felt like the right time to pool our resources and embrace cohabitation.

This included emptying my boat (Swallow) and bringing all of my earthly possessions over to her boat (currently being renamed), somehow fitting them all into a space only a little bit bigger than mine, and then making the obligatory trip to Ikea for, you know, kitchen wall hanging rail systems and storage solutions and a bin that actually works… Not to mention a full week beforehand spent painting and decorating…

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So by Sunday night we were knackered. Our new shared home looked amazing but neither of us felt like cooking or doing much of anything really.

So we went to the cinema, and we saw Love is Strange.

It’s about an ageing gay couple – Ben and George – who have been living together for nearly 40 years, but after getting married, after all that time together, one partner loses his job (he works for a Catholic school who won’t stomach same-sex marriage – the homophobia is played down throughout the film, but it’s right there in the foundation of the whole story).



Forced to sell their apartment, the two men have to live with family members, separately, whilst they look for affordable accommodation. Quiet, soft-spoken music teacher Ben ends up in a non-stop party flat with a load of rowdy, fun-loving queer cops, and George takes the bottom bunk of his great-nephew’s bedroom in one of those wealthy-but-not-that-happy New York family apartments.

It’s excruciating. The couple are so very used to each others’ company, each others’ little ways, each others’ unquestioned respect for the others’ peace and space that it’s painful to see them out of their natural habitat, struggling to get on and fit in so far out of their comfort zones, gradually trying to work their way back to each other.


The Lovers, from The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans

Pretty much the whole film is spent on this – the not-cohabitation of Ben and George and how difficult that is for them. And what you end up thinking about for most of the film is not that love is strange, but that love is beautiful and often very quiet. Love is about support and respect. In this film, the central love story was also about longevity and commitment. On the weekend Em and I had moved in together – after years of being adamant that we wouldn’t – it was such a good thing to see.

For me, The Lovers tarot card isn’t about romance or partnership.

It’s more that it shows what it feels like to have a part of yourself ‘completed’ – and for the most part, I don’t think of this as happening through another person (I wrote a whole post about this here.) It could be the perfect job, a special place where you feel truly ‘whole’, an artistic practice or hobby which, when you’re doing it, makes you feel the most like you.

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Em made me this when she was away for a few months.

But in Love is Strange, The Lovers is right there, in 40 years of loving partnership and a shared understanding that together is what these guys are.

In The Wild Unknown Tarot (above) The Lovers is illustrated by a pair of geese – mates for life. And, unlike any other deck I’ve seen, Anna Klaffinger has shown an ageing couple (rather than the typical young man and woman) in the Anna K Tarot:


These, to me, are just one element of what The Lovers is about, and it’s something I think I am too young to understand. I don’t know how it feels to have spent so much of your life with someone that you don’t know who you are without them, and I don’t know how it is to have lived with someone so long that to not live with them is to be somewhat incomplete.

These are concepts I instinctively rail against – I”m not a natural space-sharer and genuinely find the thought of living with a partner kinda tricky. I know Em does too. But seeing Ben and George gave me a warm fuzzy glow inside.

I have no idea how long Em and I will co-habit – we don’t know where life is taking us from one month to the next right now – but Love is Strange helped me to see the quiet beauty in living together and creating a shared space in which you can really feel like yourself.


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  1. Ellen says:

    This will be a movie I want to see for myself. Your description has made me a bit emotional. it resembles partially my own life. After 20 years of marriage my husband had to move into a care home after having a major stroke. We both had to learn how to be apart from eachother and how to change our vision for the future. We would have love to be like the Lovers of the Anna K tarot but that wasn’t in the cards for us.
    As you’ve said you never know where you will be next month so cherish the precious moments together. Live now and love now!
    I wish you a beautiful loving journey together
    Hugs Ellen

    • Beth says:

      Oh Ellen, I’m so sorry. I can’t possibly imagine how that must feel. I will absolutely take heed of your message and cherish this time living with Em. And I hope you do see Love is Strange – it’s full of very touching details which may really resonate for you. Big big hugs xxxxxxx

  2. chloetarot says:

    The film sounds gorgeous! I’ve only lived with two people, and it’s certainly a learning experience, if nothing else. Like you say: love, respect and support! Sounds to me like you and Em have those things already 🙂

  3. Potter says:

    Thank you for reminding me why I bought the Anna K tarot as my first deck! This was a lovely post about the Lovers – I struggle with thinking about them in entirely positive lights, so this was a breath of fresh air for me.

    …And now I want to look up that film!

  4. Diane Norris says:

    Thanks for this review Beth. The description of the “quiet love” that these two share describes the love between my partner and I beautifully. Now that we are together nearly all the time since retiring, our ability to be quietly,respectfully and humorously together is something we both cherish.
    The American humorist Erma Brombeck, once stated that she had married her husband “For better or Worse” but “Not for Lunch”. Making reference to her husbands’ retirement. I always worried that we would give each other the terminal irrits when it was our turn as we were both used to running rather large shows, but with mutual good will sanity has prevailed.
    I sure you will find your couple speed too, the first 12mths are usually the tester. Best love to you both, Diane.

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