I don't remember why I was so glum.


I’ve been trying to figure out what being a child has to do with being an adult.  I don’t have much that is intelligent to say about this yet.  But because I’ve been asking this question, I was struck by this passage when I was recently rereading the beginning of Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood:

“I woke up in bits, like all children, piecemeal over the years.  I discovered myself and the world, and forgot them, and discovered them again.  I woke at intervals until … the intervals of waking tipped the scales, and I was more often awake than not.  I noticed this process of waking, and predicted with terrifying logic that one of these years not far away I would be awake continuously and never slip back, and never be free of myself again.” (p. 11)

I’ve begun to wonder if the childhood waking and sleeping that Annie Dillard talks about is not all involuntary.  I think I decided back in the day that the only way to get through childhood to adulthood, to the good stuff, to the times I could control and to the things that I wanted, was to pass the time.  Don’t watch, and it won’t matter that it will take 18 years for the pot to boil.

So I lost myself in narrative.  I read books and watched library videos and spun stories in my head as I swung on empty swings in playgrounds after school, or as I put Billy-from-Alaska’s baseball hat on his head and kissed him on his cheek, like a wife would, when we played house on his back porch.  “Have a good day at work,” I said, adjusting the brim of his hat, feeling the adultness of the storyline.  The Loving Wife.  The Dutiful Husband.  I must have watched a lot of movies.

Now I’m adult, and I don’t drink, smoke, enjoy exercise (though I’m hoping that’s changing), or hanker to watch professional sports.  What else do adults lose themselves in?  I don’t do adrenaline-causing activities.  I don’t have or want pets.  I try not to watch reality TV.  I do not lose myself in the routine of days: the getting ups, the shoe-tyings, the bus-catchings, the email-checkings, the logging-outs, the going-homes.  (Except showering.  I do lose myself in the routine of showering, and time passes without my thinking or noticing.)  And I do not lose myself—can’t, at present—in the heft or the smell or the neck of a man I love.  But I do seek out narrative.  This weekend I watched Quantum of Solace, Get Smart, and Casino Royale, and I began to listen to a book on tape, one I’ve listened to before.  And when I had the choice, I opted for country music.  Country music so often counts toward narrative.

That’s my story.  I was a kid, who was lonely, who was fine and happy and normal.  I chose to pass the years with narrative.  And now I am an adult, who is lonely, and who is fine and happy and normal, and I want—always, almost always—to be watching a movie.  Or to hear people tell me their stories.  Or to tell them mine.  This, I realize, is problematic and may not at all be what I should be making of my life.  Especially if it’s supplanting better ways of getting myself lost.  In the service of others, for instance.  This I will consider.

In the mean time, I am nevertheless going to say this: if you have a movie recommendation or a story to share or a story you think you might want to hear, please feel free to send it along.  I’ve got some time.