Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

I just finished watching the movie Rabbit Hole.  While it is after 2:00am, and I'm sleepy and red-eyed from crying, I had some thoughts that I wanted to get down.

A summary, if you will.
If you don't know the story, here's a quick run down.  (By the way, Rabbit Hole is a fantastic play by David Lindsay-Abaire, which was later made into a movie staring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart.)  

Howie and Becca are married and have a son, Danny.  Danny happens to chase his dog, who is chasing a ball, into the street when Becca isn't looking and is hit by a car.  That car is driven by a teenage boy named Jason who, in swerving to miss the dog, hits Danny instead and kills him.  

That's the past.  The play, and the movie, are based on what is happening 8 months later.  Becca is trying to donate all evidence of Danny's prior existence to Goodwill, while Howie sits up late at night watching home videos of the three of them over and over and over again.  They clearly are trying to cope in completely separate ways.  They haven't had sex since Danny died.  They've fallen into a co-existence that is so fragile and tense, it could snap at any moment.  Becca seeks out Jason, the boy who was driving the car that hit her son.  Over time they develop a simple friendship that helps them begin to accept the events that took place.  The result is an intimate look at how grief changes people, but specifically how the death of a child affects the parents.  More importantly, on a broader spectrum, the story is about how you choose to play the cards you're dealt.

"Somewhere out there I'm happy."
One of the conversations Jason and Becca have is about alternate universes.  The idea that there are multiple versions of you in different universes at the same time, living out different lives.  Becca's response is, "So we are just the sad version of ourselves . . . . Somewhere out there I'm happy."

Lately, I've become really interested in "gut reactions."  I think I've learned how to stay in control, how to keep calm, and how to maintain face so often, that when I have a strong gut reaction to something, it really makes me pay attention.  A couple of weeks ago at work, in the store, a woman I was waiting on clapped at me from across the store and shouted "I'm in a hurry! I need to go!"  Apparently, I wasn't moving swiftly enough for her liking.  I sort of glared at her, but didn't really bat an eyelash.  Several employees came up to me afterwards and said, "How did you act like that was nothing?  I think I would have cried."

When that line of the movie was spoken, I immediately had this moment where I held my breath and thought: "I hope that's not how I'm living my life."  


Am I just the sad version of myself, of what I could be?
I don't ask this to be depressing.  I don't plan to dwell on it indefinitely - I know where that sort of thing can lead.  But I do think it should lead to acknowledging that we have all been given one - ONE - opportunity here to play our cards.  It's too easy to find a routine and fall into it, only to be shaken awake 20 or 30 years later realizing you never took any risks, and you're not all together happy.  

I don't want that to be me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tomorrow is a New Day

Oh the things that winter brings...  isn't it IRONIC that my favorite time of year is also usually the time of year filled with the most drama?  Or is it just that the bleak backdrop seems to enhance emotions, draw up memories, and exaggerate our responses to everything?

This is my favorite time of year, despite the drama.  And it isn't wholly due to the Holidays, although I do enjoy the gatherings and the food, and occasional merriment (in my family it is hit and miss).  I suppose my melancholy and theatrical side is fueled by how easily you can romanticize anything when it's cold outside.  Oh, if only Texas got snow... then my imagination would be in real Heaven.

For example, here I am in my pajamas, sipping Sprite on the sofa, under a soft blanket with my pup, and I'm just happy to be alive.  I spent roughly 5 hours yesterday pouring the insides of my stomach out to the porcelain god, thanks to some stomach flu.  And that was on top of the seasonal cold or influenza that I had contracted just days before.  The last four days of my life have been somewhat miserable.  Yesterday.... oh, yesterday.... I wanted to die.  I love that about stomach flu -- you go through so many ridiculous emotions in a matter of minutes.  Complete pain and suffering (which at the time you think couldn't be worse), trying to stay strong, giving in to the demand, humbled by your lack of control over yourself, temporarily filled with utter relief, and then your poor body goes through the whole damn thing again in less than 30 minutes.  Then as soon as it's over you feel so entirely better, like a brand new baby, a cleansed sinner...It seems almost miraculous.  I just wanted to jump up and clean the whole house.

I also appreciate this time, because I feel like I wait for it for 9 months or so.  I get about three months in to a new year and I'm ready for a do-over.  That's probably because I'm a tad OCD and if things aren't going perfectly, I want to start again.  Three months into 2011 I had just been married.  While I was happy to be married.... well, no.... I take that back... I didn't want a do-over in that case.  I was just relieved it was over.  However, the previous two and a half months could have gone better.  Yep, I wanted those back.  But I digress.... I love not only the holidays, but the New Year.  I like a fresh start.  Of course, it's only symbolic, but that's why we celebrate these things....we need some marker to remind us all that the other side of whatever it is we're going through or experiencing has the potential to be so much better.

And I suppose that's my point.  Sometimes it's a 24 hour thing... sometimes it's 3-4 months...but you can always have a fresh start.  As Anne of Green Gables once said, "isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

Hopefully my tomorrow includes solid foods.