Saturday, March 17, 2012

On the Road Again

Keeping along the same themes as my previous post, I watch a lot of movies and over time have developed a few lists:  my favorite movies, movies I like to watch seasonally (for instance, Aliens is a holiday staple), movies I watch when I'm mad at something (usually a number of things go boom in those), and The Big 7.  The Big 7 consist of films that are not necessarily my all time favorites, although they do crossover and I do love each of them, but that, no matter how many times I watch them, will drive me to tears at some point.  And keep in mind I've seen some of these dozens of times.  The world has hardened me; I don't cry as readily as I used to, so while the list always has the potential to grow, it is not expanding at the same rate as it did at one point, but the ones that make the list remain on there despite my desensitized heart.  I'll test them now and again just to be sure.  I am contemplating the Big 7 currently not because of their place in the annals of cinema per se, but why each of them makes me snot nosed weepy and how that relates to my last week, because I sit here contemplating all of this from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, looking out over a flat, hazy vista, watching an American flag blow briskly in a hot, humid spring wind.

I don’t cry over movies for the reasons many women do.  As I took inventory of the Big 7 and the spots within them that get me going, it is often over friendship or locale, rarely over romantic love – okay, never actually.  Two of the Big 7 wallop me with both at the same time:  Out of Africa and The Return of the King.  When Frodo hugs Sam goodbye before taking the ship to the Undying Lands, I simply lose it man.  Witnessing him giving up his beloved Shire and Bag End, and the poignant parting from his dear friend, companion and gardener, Samwise Gamgee, well…if I think about it too long, I’ll get misty eyed right now in the middle of this stuffy, humid airport.

Out of Africa kicks me in the gut because I so long for Karen to be able to stay in Africa for one, but also because of her relationship with Farah and how painful it is to think of them having to be parted.  I’ll cry during the funeral scene when she buries her lover, but that’s because I’ve been blubbering for the past 20 minutes anyway, ever since the part where Farah asks her how it is to be between them.  Oh, for crying out loud, I actually am getting misty…

People have told me over and over in the course of my long life that I should find happiness wherever I am.  I credit that as a noble statement, but as I look out over the view from the airport window, all I can think about is how soon I can get on that plane heading home to Pittsburgh and get away from this hot, flat, humid place.  Yet, I leave a lot of really treasured friends behind.  And that’s hard too.  Really hard.

 This was a week of wild ups and downs.  The town crowded with SXSW performers and listeners, I had to stay in a hotel north of Georgetown and drive into the office each morning.  Sans toll tag, I cut across FM 620 to get there:  past the nursing home where my mother breathed her last early one spring morning, past the hospital where I have so much history with all the women in my family, past the grocery store where I agonized over what I could buy that was healthy but not threatening to Kelsey when she was in treatment and for Marissa when she decided she was Vegan.  All of that after I passed the high school.  I was grateful to see the view of the actual building obscured by an outcropping of portables that have sprung up like little rabbits since my daughters’ time there.  I couldn’t make out the main building at all.  But I knew it was there.   The punch in the gut that I took driving past all of that history the first time cannot be minimized.  It did get easier over time, but never pleasant.  But, that was juxtaposed with seeing some friends I have not been able to see in a long while and enjoying their company immensely and running down a mental list of all the individuals I did not get to spend time with and wishing I could see them.  I have said it before:  for some unknown reason, I am fortunate in my friends.  So, I wonder briefly what the hell was I thinking moving away from such wonderful people.

As I drive myself to the airport, I hear an interview with Shins front man James Mercer.  They are going to perform that night in Austin, and I think how I would have loved to have seen them - I never have.  Then I think that at least I still have that chance somewhere on down the line.  Kelsey will never get to see them, and she is the reason I even know who they are.  I don't know if that is why, but I realize then just how ready I am to get back on the plane and come home.  To Pittsburgh.

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