lady bird, the future, and what’s happening now

Friday, February 9, 2018 |
Most years, I try to see a majority of Oscar-nominated films. Why? Because 1) I like going to the theater, 2) I took a course on film history in college and it ignited a lifelong interest in the medium, and 3) sometimes they break and mend my heart the way that a good book does. So, here are some thoughts from the night I saw Lady Bird, and some from a week later.

Last Friday
I just saw Greta Gerwig’s Academy Award-nominated film Lady Bird, and the whole way home my senses were heightened, my feelings were feeling, if you will, and I couldn’t quite decide how to address it all. I texted the wise friend from grad school who urged me to see the film a couple of months ago. But still, words were brimming up and spilling up outside of thought and oh yeah, I totally talked to myself on the bus. Oops. Well, I have this beautiful blog that has been sitting, unloved and un-updated for months! The perfect place to park for a bit, unburden, and unwind. I hope you’ll indulge me.

Gerwig captured so beautifully many of the contradictions of being a teenager – especially an American teenager in a world post-9/11 and on the cusp of embracing the internet with open arms. I cringed and laughed and nodded along at so many moments. The music was just right. The being a lower middle class kid at a private school atmosphere was just right. The thrift shopping! Any time Lady Bird fought or interacted with her mother.

The whole thing was poignant as heck, but maybe the best/worst bit was one this: when Lady Bird asked her mother, “What if this is the best version of myself?” and her mother looked back silently, meaningfully, as if to say, “Are you serious?!”

The best films and books (stories in general, really) take you out of yourself, and make you look at and experience the world in a deeper way. I may have squirmed and cringed and laughed and wished myself away from the theater during awkward moments in the Lady Bird screening, but I came out ready to *experience* everything. I watched the world around me with unnerving intensity for a couple of days, trying to drink it in and capture some of the magic that Gerwig infused her film with. I felt in the moment, and I kept on feeling, and I kept thinking of new ways to engage, to be a better person. In that way, the film was incredibly inspiring.

And yet, after sitting with the film for a week, and telling people about it, and how I felt about it, I would no longer call it only “inspiring.” My favorite descriptor now is “authentic.” I told various friends that it felt like a thinly veiled biography of my own teen experience – down to the stubborn, know-it-all, lying-to-your-“friends”-to-make-them-like-you-and-hide-your-ignorance truth of those years. It reminded me of the vague hopes and dreams of teenaged Cecelia.

What did I want in 2002? I wanted to be independent, to get away from family and Seattle, to have true privacy (I used to drive to the public library some weeknights in high school just to have space to think), and to have friends who got me. Sixteen years later, and I have different (more specific!) goals and dreams. I often feel as though I’m not meeting them, and that I am letting people down. Taking a moment like the one provided by Lady Bird, though, I realize that I have done it. I’ve met those 2002 goals and dreams. Eighteen year old me would be so proud. And while present-me knows I can’t take that as any measure of success, that I have plenty of growing and learning to do, it was a happy, reassuring thought.

So, here we are. I plan to keep asking how I can be a better version of myself, and to continue working on the answer. God bless Gerwig and the whole crew behind Lady Bird. They created art, and it was authentic, inspiring, and good. If you haven’t seen it yet, GO!

1 comment:

Gaby G said...

I need to see this movie!!! It sounds amazing. Teenager me also wanted to be independent, live alone!! haha

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