things change when you care enough to grab whatever you love, and give it everything.
3 April 2012 § 1 Comment
I read that a few days after I arrived in Costa Rica, months ago. It seemed worth noting. In the long and humid Caribbean nights, which were full of philosophy and chocolate rather than hot sweaty nights on dance floors, like in the movies, a good idea had to be written down before I sweat it out.
Convinced that films, books, and scripts didn’t actually come from real life, I set about my life to make them reality. Perhaps I wanted to justify their existence, and entertainment factor wasn’t enough. Some people don’t like to talk about a movie after they see it; it’s either good, or pretty good, or okay. This infuriates me.
If I had a million dollars, I’d walk out of a cinema, jump on a plane, and go live all the coolest parts of that movie. My friends the cast would join me. Then we could say Hollywood had a foot in truth.
I’ve said a few times that I learned a great number of my life skills from films. My favorite example is shaving. There was a scene in a bathroom where a father showed his son, who had no sign of facial hair whatsoever, how to use a razor. I hit rewind on the VCR eight or nine times, mom’s razor in hand, and copied what I saw in the foggy mirror.
When I travel it occurs to me on occasion that I’ve seen this scene before, that I know exactly what’s going to happen when I step off the bus, or walk into this neighborhood. But the hero is not always saved by coincidence, and has to earn his title of hero. It’s not always déjà vu; sometimes I remember the actor’s name, and the year the movie came out.
More often, when I’m at home, I feel like ‘that guy who ____.’ Everything just fits into place that I get singled out, or am singled out, as that character – one I usually do not want to be. I’m okay with the role of the smart sidekick, the anti-hero, even the extra in the coffeeshop; the guy whose friends avoid his constantly talking about suicide was not the me that I envisioned being as a kid, staying up until 3 a.m. watching Cool Hand Luke, Spy Game, or What Women Want.
It gets worse all the way up until I get on a plane, or in a car, and go very far away. Then I’m the cool guy who everyone wants to hang around, who says poetic things and asks people hard questions. Then I attract the attention that makes me not think about death all the time. All I have to do is go very far away.
That could be a movie.
An old friend told me in a roundabout way that my writing reminded her of Tennessee Williams. I took it as a compliment until I made a sandwich later and remembered how we’d peruse thrift store bookshelves for gems, and show each other finds with sarcastic smiles, looking for pretentious reactions from the other. We were poor artists, and had the right to make fun of everything, including work that we could never do ourselves.
It seemed that everywhere we went, one of us found a copy of The Glass Menagerie. Never more than a dollar a piece, we never bought one.
More recently, I read an essay he wrote a few years after the Glass Menagerie gained him all the fame and praise. He described how much he hated being put up in a full-service Manhattan hotel penthouse, courtesy of some publisher or whatever, and how disconnected from people he felt. He lamented how the constant barrage of compliments and adoration had built a block in him against all of it, and how he started being an asshole to fans when they noticed him on the street.
Then he left New York, went back to writing ‘bad plays’, and enjoyed obscurity again. It was the classic story of attaining the ‘dream’, realizing it wasn’t all it was made out to be, and walking away from it to go live life again. The penthouse would be nice, but I don’t really want it.
These days I’m grabbing at more than straws; these are more like …spoons. Metal spoons. With fancy engraving. I’m still not far from the Caribbean, though, and my nights still aren’t spent on dance floors, but I don’t watch too many films anymore either.
And I feel more like me now.