Movies that Draw a Line
Yesterday was family day. Around 3:30 in the afternoon, as Nat and Anna’s laundry was in full swing; Ruby was planning a “bear wedding” (between two of my stuffed bears); Dave was busy preparing dinner; and the rest of us (Lea and Karma included) were visiting, we began channel surfing. We discovered the Academy Awards were beginning at 5:30. None of us even knew they were scheduled for yesterday. I remember March as the month of Oscar. Either the date was moved up, or my memory is shot. Since, we know my memory is shot, I’m going with they moved up the date.
For those two hours, I imagined what it would be like, watching the Academy Awards without Owen. He had always popped in and out of the living room during the show, sitting with us just long enough to watch the highlights, then off to his room to play guitar or read. He didn’t have much patience for all the “fill” – he just wanted to know what movies were winning awards.
Movies were such a huge part of our family’s time together (and since I grew up in the greater Los Angeles area, I’d known plenty of people who had either been a part of the industry, or had spent the vast majority of their lives trying to be a part of it), “Oscar” was always a big annual event in our household.
Nat’s and Owen’s father, Michael, is a movie buff from way back. He can tell you what movie was named Best Motion Picture - and from what year, who was best actor and actress, and often, some of the technical awards of a given year. It’s rather amazing. The boys caught the bug early, and could recite lines from their favorite movies from the time they were little kids.
This year’s broadcast was disturbing for me. I watched and listened to the show, but more importantly, I watched and listened to our extended family talking about the show - Nat keeping pace with Jon Stewart, but with a different perspective, more sharp and jaded. No small wonder. I don’t know if anyone else in the room was as aware of Owen’s absence as I was, but I’m guessing it crossed their minds off and on. I was obsessed with his absence. Again, no small wonder – I often am.
Owen’s jobs in the three movie theaters, were some of the best days of his adult life. He loved the movies, he loved making a paycheck, and he loved knowing the consumer end of the industry.
Last year, at this time, Owen began looking for a film school. The Academy of Art in San Francisco has a film program, and he had just begun his research into the requirements, and received the catalogue and other collateral materials to make his decision. He received the first of the mailings only a few weeks before he went missing. He was working at the Boulevard Cinemas, while making his plans. We all thought it was a match.
The last movie Dave and I went to see at Boulevard was “The Number 23″ with Jim Carrey. Owen was working that night, and we all met in the lobby at the end of the show. We talked about the movie (Owen had already seen it), and we waited for his shift to end, and drove home together. I loved the movie, as did Owen, and Dave took it in stride.
Watching the Awards last night was a 3 hour and 20 minute reminder of everything movie-and-Owen-related because that year, 2007, was the year when Owen watched his last movies. Every new movie that came out after he died was a reminder (for me) of all the movies he would not get to see with us or friends.
The movies have drawn a line, three lines, really - Before Owen, Owen, and After Owen. As each award was presented, I saw my mind’s 2007 calendar, a calendar rooted not only in time, but in movies. I will never watch that 3rd “Pirates of the Carribean” movie that Owen saw on the last night of his life. Yet, there were clips from the movie, right there on the television last night, and I kept wondering at what exact moment Owen decided he was bored, and got up to leave. And, why. Considering the movie was just more of the same, I can imagine he thought he could spend his time elsewhere, having more fun. More fun is definitely not what he found.
I can’t walk into the Boulevard Cinemas to see a movie now. I have a hard time going to any movie theater. I’ve done it twice since Owen died, at the Roxy Theater in Santa Rosa ( where he filled in when someone was on vacation, or didn’t show up for a shift) - on Christmas Day with Dave, and once with my friend’s daughter, because they both needed a break.
We watch movies to escape, to dream, to live vicariously, and for some of us…to delineate time. I know what movie Owen last watched in a theater, and every movie after that one, is part of my description of “life after Owen”.
At the end of last night, I was quite wrecked. Memories flooded in; famous and not-so-famous lines reminded me of hilarious laughter in living rooms and movie theaters when the boys spent their time enjoying the magic; and every movie that won awards last night, prompted me to acknowledge that movies will go on, but our time with Owen won’t.
“Sometimes, Joel, you just got to say, “What the fuck”.
Video for the night: Risky Business Car Sinking, “Risky Business” (one of the great movie scenes from Nat’s and Owen’s youth – I was going to post the “Sex on a Train” scene, which was one of Nat’s and Owen’s favorite movie scenes, but, my friend, Karma, said it was inappropriate for a mother to post…and, she’s right, but, Dave would really like to see it again, and again, and again, as he’s standing here over my shoulder, making me write this disclaimer, because Rebecca De Mornay is…well, just is, so…)