The Collaborative Marriage: Rough Patches

Negotiating what you need

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Still frame from film, Chapter 19: Honey Brown, Wild

Hal and I are partners in every way — in life, creativity, and business. Luckily we have talked over the years (30 years equals lots of conversations) about how, at times, we each need to have projects that no one else has a say in, including each other.

I feel uncomfortable using this structure, but if you look you’ll see there is no “me” in The Collaborative Marriage, there are, however, two “I”s. 

This peeling apart from “us“ to “I“ and weaving us back together has been a natural rhythm in our marriage and work. There is hardly anything that we don’t end up working on together. We may start on our own, but by the time a thing is getting good and we’re invested, we turn to each other.

But you only know that after it’s happened. To begin, you have to have a little faith.

A year of eye surgeries had broken me in every way — physically, emotionally, and mentally. Intuition was screaming at me — not a gentle tap, screaming — that I needed to get away. From my life and work, and from Hal. I needed to be by myself. Not because I hated him or any of it, really. I just needed to be by myself.

I wanted to be alone, somewhere really beautiful. I also wanted to make something that pleased me. Just me. I could work on it until I thought it was done. No rounds of opinion. Just me and that particular joy that comes from making something.

Hal and I had just wrapped a ginormous project and were both wrung out, so we decided to give ourselves a bonus. We took a chunk of cash and split it, 50/50. For the record, it was more cash than we were comfortable with. It was more than was reasonable. But, I was, perhaps, going blind. I went to Italy. I rented an ancient stone tower on the southern coast for three weeks, packing enough 3×5 cards to catch whatever came to me in the quiet. Hal renovated the barn for studio space, and bought camera gear.

In the end I spent part of my money to have Hal meet me, to share Italy in a little ‘tack on’ of another two weeks. By the time he arrived Positano: Ad Occhi Aperti had made its way onto the page, a screenplay open to reinvention. He brought his camera equipment, with no agenda.

By the time we flew home we had agreed to return the following year. The rest, you know already, is history. And a leap of faith.

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