Today after the Lad’s soccer game we went for a walk on the Rail Trail. I kicked myself many times for leaving my camera at home. We found a decrepit caboose that was exquisite.
After that we grabbed some dinner and then ran up to York for ice cream and movies. The kids watched First Daughter or something like that (they were unimpressed), while we watched Garden State. Which was beautiful.
Near the end the lead character, Andrew, is getting on a plane. He’s flying back to California. He feels he needs to work things out, figure himself out, get things straight, before he comes back to see his new girlfriend. But that’s what he’s been doing all his life – standing on the verge of life, waiting for it to begin. Oh how often I have felt that I just need some time to work things out. To really think and figure out who I am, what I’m doing, what I want. And all the time life has been going by me in a blur… and the truth is, this is all we have. It’s already started, and it’s slipping away minute by minute.
But we don’t get the swell of the soundtrack and the camera pan-out to let us know when we’ve hit a cusp moment, when we’ve gotten it right. We don’t have a writer making sure we hear just the right words at the right time. My life has never had the clarity of a film. So much of it has been spent muddling along, barely conscious. Andrew has been medicated into numbness as long as he remembers, and though I have never been medicated like that, I identify with him. Off of drugs for the first time in many years, you can hear the wonder in his voice when he realizes that he knows, that he is certain, that he’s in love with Sam. After a lifetime of not even knowing what he feels, he is sure of that one thing. I wish I could feel that sure about anything. I wish I could have that kind of emotional clarity again. I wish that for once I could have something that was so important to me I didn’t care what I had to give up to attain it. I have no drugs I can quit. All I have are layers of emotional bubble-wrap accreted over the years. I don’t know how to cut through it.
There is this poignant moment in the film. at the end of a long, strange journey. In the midst of a downpour, Andrew, Sam, and Andrew’s friend find the man they are looking for. He is living literaly on the edge of an abyss, in a ramshackle boat that serves as his home, amidst a miniature junkyard of vandalised construction equipment. He is living there with his wife and their baby. At one point he tells them that it doesn’t matter what happens, that as long as he is living with his wife and his beautiful baby, that’s all he needs. You can see as it clicks with Andrew. As he realizes that there, in a nutshell, is what life is all about.
I used to understand the wisdom in that. It was all I wanted. A home, a wife, babies. We would create our own little circle of warmth in a cold world. I would finally have a place to call home, and mean it. And nothing else would matter so match.
I have lost sight of that dream. I can’t tell whether it is because there is something broken in me which makes me always long for the grass on the other side of the fence; or if reality has simply failed to realize the dream. I find myself repelled by the vision I once held up as my best hope for happiness. And yet I can still look at it and say, objectively, that there is greater wisdom and surer reward in that goal than in perhaps any other. So why do I feel that the promise has gone out of it? Why do I no longer desire it? Am I doomed to eternal discontent?
There is a feeling I sometimes get in my dreams, when something irreversably awful has happened. It’s a sick feeling of wrongness, that the world is off-kilter and that for the first time there is no hope for things to be righted again. It’s the feeling I get when, in my dreams, I have done something horrible, or someone close to me has died, or some great evil has been loosed. Sometimes I get that feeling while I’m awake. As if something has gone terribly wrong, and nothing will ever be ok again. As if the wrong track was taken somewhere back along the line, and even if I tried to backtrack, to mend the mistake, the scenery would be twisted and unrecognizable. It’s the feeling that I have gone too far, that I will never really feel again, never love with abandon, never look ahead without that twist in my gut. As if the brokenness I carry with me will pervert everything, so that everywhere I go, everything I do will be tainted. This is the true loss of innocence. The knowledge that things will never be okay again.