There is a side eyed glance you get in the movie theatre when someone is trying to figure out if you’re crying, but doesn’t want to make it obvious. They want to give the illusion of privacy, while prying at you crying in a public place. I’ve seen those looks for as long as I can remember. That look is my date to the movie theatre, always and forever. Being a movie crier makes every film a suspense to me. I wait for my chest to feel heavy, for the tears to come, and then the look. Sometimes I cry at objectively sad scenes; moments Jane and John Doe would find sad. Other times, I feel I’m watching my life unfold on the screen, or what my life could’ve been, or what I hope it will be.
For most of my life, I didn’t care much for film. I liked movies and I usually wanted to see the superheroes fight and the occasional romance or drama, but I didn’t go to the theatre often. That was just a nice treat on a Saturday or an awkward first date that my sister and neighbor friend chaperoned. I never looked for the beauty on the screen. I never saw it as art. I just cried, left, and didn’t think much about what I had just watched. This year, that all changed. Film became art. Film became something I gazed at, rather than just watched. Now, every movie is a lesson on life. Every movie means more to me than its script.
When I saw Logan, I cried at the love of a father that blossomed in so little time. I saw Baby Driver, and fell in love with music so closely intertwined with film they seemed like one. (And B-A-B-Y, baby). I saw Only the Brave and felt my heart break. I saw It’s a Wonderful Life at a special showing, and cried at the beauty of humanity and life regained. I saw The Big Sick and fell more in love.
I saw Lady Bird— I lived Lady Bird.
When I saw Lady Bird, my soul expanded past the borders of my body and took over, I’m sure of it. The credits rolled and I couldn’t move. My body felt frozen, shocked at the overload of emotions. Every part of me was crying. Lady Bird left me raw and pink, crying over things I never had tears for. The tears didn’t stop either. The tears became shaky breaths and eyes squeezed shut. My boyfriend noticed that I was more quiet than I usually am post-movie. My usual excited, “So, did you like it?” was missing. I rattled off a list of all the things in the movie that had me thinking maybe Lady Bird was me, or who I used to be.
“My old school…”
“That cute boy that likes to read…”
“Her dad, oh god her dad…”
“Her obsession with New York…”
“I had a best friend named Julie…”
It didn’t matter that half of the things Lady Bird experiences in the movie, I never have. What mattered is that it made me remember who I was in high school, what it felt like to be in high school, wearing plaid skirts and knee high socks, trying desperately to find some way to stand out (floral Doc Martens). My best friend Julie and I used to laugh and obsess over boys and the way we grew up. I used to dream of moving to New York, it had a weird pull on me. My whole family knew New York was mine. I don’t remember when New York and I broke up. After watching Lady Bird, I don’t know remember why either. I remembered the kind of boy I always imagined I’d be with: a Kyle, some mysterious boy who’s always reading and too cool for anything, but not a total jerk (even if he was, then at least I will have learned something). I remembered my tough mom and my gentle dad. Watching Lady Bird was like watching two movies— the one with Christine, and just beside it, the one with me.
I told everyone, “Lady Bird is so good, the best movie I’ve seen this year.” I liked Lady Bird, no doubt. I asked myself If I loved Lady Bird and I didn’t have a clear answer right away. I feel like I did, but how could I love something that hurt me? Something that felt like a violation, something that got too close. Love didn’t seem like the right word.
Love is the perfect word. I love Lady Bird like I love my boyfriend when we argue. When I have a heavy chest, and am disappointed, angry, hurt, I love him still. I want him close still. I love him for the hard, but important things he shows me about life, myself, and love. I love Lady Bird like I love myself when I do stupid things and make wrong choices. I love myself for crying, growing, and fiercely pursuing who I dream of being. I love Lady Bird like I love my mom when she seems mad for no reason, or when I'm mad for no reason, and it becomes so crystal clear we are two very different people. She’s still my favorite woman. I love Lady Bird like I love my dad when his vices seem stronger than anything else, and I wonder if I’m enough. He’s still my favorite man. Love is the perfect word.
I told a friend, “It was amazing, but I don’t know if I’ll ever want to watch it again.” Watching it again now would be like salt in the wound. Too close, too soon. I’ll watch Lady Bird again in two years and cry all over again, for different reasons. I’ll remember who I was in high school and who I was when I first saw Lady Bird. I’ll cry, get a side eyed glance, and love every minute of it. ✉
piece by: marijane fasana