Picture #151: "... and may we always keep in mind, that the remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they wer... Wait, remind me, what the hell are you supposed to be again?"
Last night I went to see Woody Allen's latest flick, "Midnight in Paris." It's one of his best in years, and I continue to marvel at his prolific imagination and gift for whimsy. Not wanting to give anything away, as I went in knowing very little and was very happily surprised by the twists and turns the movie took, I'll just say it's a film about our perception of the past in relation to the present. The protagonist in "Midnight" romanticizes the past, relegating his present to the far back seat like an unwanted child. I'm quite the opposite, myself; I tend to take a very dim view of the past and find more hope, however unfulfilled, in the possibilities of the present and the future.
I went into the movie with a certain amount of dread. I had been to Paris for the first time in my life just over a year ago with my now ex-girlfriend, where we had what might be honestly remembered as a mixed and bittersweet experience. I was a mite leery of being reminded of that time by the setting of the movie. On top of that, this was my ex's birthday weekend, so she had already been on my mind before I decided to go see "Midnight" (in our few years together, we'd had some rather unfortunate birthday communication, or lack thereof).
Fortunately, the film was so thoroughly charming and clever that it did what movies are supposed to do; it provided an escape from the worries of the past and present, and gave me hope for the future.
Still, as the actual birthday came and went, I was left at the end of the night with a bit of melancholy. I hadn't contacted her, not wanting to disturb her on her special day, even delaying sending a gift (that I hope will give her a chuckle) until after it had passed. Things had not ended well, and no one should be reminded of such things on their birthday.
But amidst all this Francophilia and angst, I was reminded, appropriately, of a quote by Marcel Proust (an author whose works I've never been able to stomach in their long, long entirety): "Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were." As I said before, I tend to take a very stark view of the past. I'm glacially slow to forgive and have a very long memory. But that said, I am very acutely aware that I, with very few exceptions, definitely give more weight to the bad than the good in my recollection of things.
And so I thought, on her birthday, I'd toast one of the good things. She had knitted this Godzilla doll for me one Christmas years ago; I believe I actually may have blogged about it at the time. It remains one of the finest presents I've ever received, imbued with thoughtfulness and love, if perhaps not proportion. And, in fact, that lack of proportion was the source of much shared laughter and joy between us. There were lots of those moments, lots of good memories.
Does this change things between us? Not really; I still hold a lot of resentment over a number of things that went on, but that's something that aging will deal with - and after those waves of time wash over and over the rocks of my memory, I can only hope that wisdom's waters leave shiny, happy pebbles on the beach of my mind.
Anyway, go see the movie, it's a great little flick.