Thursday, December 08, 2005

'I wear the chain I forged in life'

'I wear the chain I forged in life,' replied the Ghost. 'I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?' I've been thinking about the Yankee Transplant and her poor Bleeding Heart Attorney*, who is beset with some scary unknown medical condition. But I've also been thinking about the ways I see her all over the blogs we share in common, quick with a kindness or a word of support. And Sarcastro, sitting across from me at a restaurant, picking the day out from under his fingernails while watching women come and go. And the Professor sitting on the futon at her lover's house, listening to him explain to me how to make his famous rice dish, her eyes sparkling with delight. And poor Dorcasina, who is struggling to live through the death of her young husband. One of the things that strikes me is that real people are infinitely interesting. Maybe not to themselves, but to me. Better than the best book** or poem*** or movie****. It's easy to lose yourself in fiction, and I like as much as the next person giving myself over to a created world with vivid characters. It's harder to do that with real people. But I find there's something a lot more compelling about the boring ordinary lives of the people I care about--their struggles and their triumphs hook me in a way that fiction doesn't. I think because, in part, I suspect that all we have is each other. We are just some fucked-up imperfect people who come together in whatever half-assed ways we can to do as much for each other as we can stand to do. Most of the time, that's not very much. Which leads me to the best movie ever--almost any version of A Christmas Carol. Is there any better story*****? A grouchy, miserly, hard-hearted man is transformed because his equally grouchy, equally miserly, equally hard-hearted friend shows up as a ghost and scares the shit out of him. When I was little, it used to bother me that Jacob Marley was still wandering the earth weighed down by the chains he forged in life. I wanted some kind of redemption and happy ending for old Marley. But now that I'm older, I think that's the most amazing part--that Marley would show up to help Scrooge even though it makes no difference to Marley. God damn. That's tremendous. That's friendship. And that's a lesson--that we ought to try to do right by each other when we can, even if it makes no difference to us. But also, Scrooge is surrounded by people who are trying to reach out to him--his nephew, Bob Cratchit, etc. The problem isn't that he's inherently alone, it's that he makes himself alone. When he's ready to not be alone any more, there are people waiting to receive him. Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs! I think there's something very hopeful about a story in which we redeem each other. And, since I am a sentimental fool, I watch that movie, in any version, as often as I can. *Fuck you, America, for giving me no proper word to call this woman. Partner? As if Yankee Transplant works at her law firm? Girlfriend? As if they are children? Lover? As if their days together are always carefree and languid? Hogging the words that carry the weight of love and commitment all to yourselves is cruel, very cruel. **Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, in case you're wondering. *** "Song of Myself" of course. **** We're getting to that. *****When I lived out in Donelson, one of the churches advertised that they were going to perform a "Christian" version of A Christmas Carol. Whoa, I thought, did they not get the original at all.

6 Comments:

Blogger Exador said...

I just recently re-saw Scrooged, with Bill Murray. What a great movie; Updating the old Christmas Carol to modern times, but still keeping it great.

12/08/2005 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Peggasus said...

Me too! I love 'Scrooged.' My other favorite version is the one with George C. Scott.

12/08/2005 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Yeah, Calvino. We used to read that back in that dorm room. But your favorite then (and mine, still) was "If on a winter's night a traveler."

(Woops. Meme's over.)

12/08/2005 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger the Professor said...

I'm not crying. Well, maybe just a little. I want right now to explain so much to you about our friendship, but I know I don't have to - you know all of it.

12/08/2005 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

We obviously drove past the same church, B, because that was a huge tirade of mine for weeks. Tim got to where he would drive out of our way because he couldn't stand to hear me rant and rave.

12/08/2005 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Yankee T said...

So, so late to this party, Aunt B. Thank you so much. I have found such brilliance and compassion in the world of blogs. You never cease to delight me, and now you have touched me so. And, I call The Attorney my wife, even though here in Elvisville, that will never be the case.

12/09/2005 04:14:00 PM  

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