“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.” – Pema Chodron
I’m having a hard time articulating what I want to say today, so I’m just going to say it, and hope that the feeling of it gets across somehow. I’m sorry if it sounds a little wavy-gravy.
I didn’t see “Alien” until I was in college, in the early 90’s. And I had no intention of seeing it- I was not a fan of terror and gore and slime. However, “Alien” turned out to be required viewing for my Women in Film class, and would be on the final, so I needed to just deal with it and get through it.
So one fall night in 1994, I loaded the VHS tape into my tiny TV (remember tiny cube TVs with built-in VCRs?) and planned on doing stuff around my dorm room as it played, thereby “watching” it but not really *watching* it.
Of course, I wound up being glued to my TV set from the first minute of the film to the last frame. As soon as the film ended, I rewound the tape and watched it from start to finish, just as enthralled and engaged as I had the been the first time around.
It became one of my all-time favorite films. I wrote many papers on it for my film classes. It inspired me to choose 2001: A Space Odyssey as the subject of my master’s thesis. It was the start of a huge obsession with space-themed films. If I were slightly more unhinged, Gracie could have been named “Ripley” (in fact, that was going to be Delilah’s name, but it absolutely did not suit her…) My passion for the film has not faded since the first time I saw it.
When I heard “Prometheus” was being made, I was hesitantly hopeful. When I saw the trailer for the first time back in December, I started counting down the days until the movie’s release. I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas. I felt like I was getting to see “Alien” again for the first time.
And on Friday afternoon, after many months of watching and re-watching the previews, talking about it, facebooking about it, and wondering about it, Tom and I finally went to see “Prometheus”. And it didn’t disappoint.
After the movie finished, I found myself in the bathroom of the theater, staring at myself in the mirror as I washed my hands, still sort of turning over the film in my mind, and wanting to see it again.
Then I had this very strange “full circle” moment.
I clearly remember the last time I went to see an “Alien” film in the theater- it was November 26th, 1997, the day “Alien: Resurrection” had been released. I remember doing the same exact thing after the film finished- standing in the bathroom in the theater in Atlanta, staring at myself in the mirror while washing my hands, turning the movie over in my head. All that separated that memory and the present moment was fifteen years.
I suddenly wondered, what would my 23 year old self *think* if she knew the way that life turned out? If she knew that in 15 years she’d be standing in a bathroom at a movie theater in Florida, having just seen *another* Alien movie (this one was exceptional…)?
What would she have thought if she saw me reflected in that mirror, a 38 year-old woman with short hair (I had hair down to my butt all through college… and I swore I would NEVER cut it), with more lines and age on her face, more muscles on her body (I swam in college, but not like I do now…), finally comfortable in her own skin? What would she think about the cane by my side, the one I use to compensate for the balance I lost when I had my stroke?
What would she think about the rings on my finger, that signified marriage and a 12+ year relationship with an amazing guy? What would she have thought when she saw the family-friendly Nissan we drive, with Gracie’s booster seat in the back?
What would she think about Gracie, the amazing six-year-old who calls me “Mommy”?
What would she think about our little yellow house on the water, my beloved art studio inside of it, my little garden, a pool to call my own? Our little zoo of animals that live with us?
What would she think of the way life turned out?
It was a huge tumble of thoughts that shook me up. I mean, it *really* threw me for a loop. I don’t have the words to even articulate it, to be honest. I’m struggling with it, but in the best possible way.
I never, in a million years, expected a life like this. My dream was to be a curator in a museum, but by the time I found myself in graduate school for Film History and Theory it was becoming evident that it wasn’t going to happen. I spent most of 1997 through 1999 being lost, not knowing what the hell would happen after I finished graduate school. Trying to figure it out, but not being able to make any progress. I wanted to be able to anchor myself in *something*, some plan for the future. But nothing provided that for me. I guess it was because I wasn’t really considering the true possibilities.
As I stood there on Friday afternoon, staring at myself in the mirror, I realized that if I knew how it would turn out all those years ago… wow. Let’s just say that girl (and I *was* just a girl, even though I felt very very old…) would have been pretty pretty damn surprised.
And pretty damn happy.
And with that, a lot of things became clear for me. I was able to walk out of the movie theater that evening and climb into the car with my husband and head back to our little home with a very, very clear sense of life being exactly the way it is and was supposed to be.
For this moment, at least.
I’m trying to stay with that feeling as much as possible. I’m trying to look at my life through the eyes of my 23-year- old self, trying to maybe transmit to her that it all turns out okay, trying to maybe reassure her that all she has to do is stick with it, and maybe enjoy the ride just a little bit more.
Common Miracles is a project I started in May, 2011 to examine and discover how gratitude works in everyday life. To find out more about Common Miracles please visit the very first post about this project, located here.