Before you go to bed you experience the "movie reel" from your day. A string of images or scenarios from the day-you can stop, rewind, replay, pause, fast forward...everything but erase or record. For many of us, our movie reels focus on "should haves". We replay that 2:00pm job interview, what would we have said different? Or, we revisit dinner with the cute guy from the gym...except we add a different ending. We fantasize about hypotheticals, while we analyze what really happened. At least the way we remember it happened. But what happens when you struggle to separate what really happened from the way you wanted it to happen. Naturally we ought to be able to direct our own movie reel. I mean, right? Is this what it truly means to "be a dreamer"? Technically, you are not dreaming when you are viewing your "movie reel". But here lies the problem. For many of us, we drift into a dream before our movie reel rolls the credits. Then what?
Maybe my movie reel is the cause of most of my anxiety. If it were at Blockbuster, it would surely be in the "suspense" or "drama" section. I will rewind more than I fast forward, because I tend to live in the past. Or, I will change around a current situation with elements I know do not exist. For the most part, I think that movie reels are our therapy. You are essentially having a conversation with yourself- your doubts, goals, insecurities, and hopes. You may not always have control over what really happened, but you always have the ability to reinvent what could have been. The way you would want it, anyway.
The baby behind me was inconsolable. Whaling- this was no ordinary cry. As I fumbled to get out my Visa, the woman behind the counter looked at me, practically rolling her eyes. She asked "is it 4 o'clock yet?", without saying a word. While I make it a point to not stare at crying babies or their parents (including but not limited to: on planes and doctors offices). I will make a point to stare at restaurants. If you are able to excuse yourself, please do. Go outside, or to the lounge, SOMEPLACE where you can tell your baby to shut the hell up. Shopping is no exception. Half the mothers at Somerset Mall, I mean "The Collection", couldn't care less if their child disrupts shoppers at Bebe, or terrorizes the elevator at Nordstrom. I don't know what it is about Mothers and shopping. Like all responsibilities of parenting are called off. I mean, right? I will delve into that another time, though.
While the woman began to remove the security tags from my purchases, I turned around to see exactly what thing could produce such noise. The baby was around...I have no idea. I can guess the age of puppies, no problem. Humans are a different story. The mother felt HORRIBLE, I could tell. As soon as I turned around to just glance at the scene, she immediately said, "Ear infection. I'm so sorry."
"awwww, poor girl!", I said with sad eyes. I mean, I didn't see my eyes, but I imagined they looked "sad".
"Yeah, HE has been uncomfortable for a few days now. Thought taking HIM out of the house would help distract HIM".
The kid had a full head of golden locks. Curly, of course. Jeans and a salmon colored shirt (it had to have been Baby J Crew, or something). I'm telling you it was salmon, MAYBE terracotta. Rosy little cheeks, gorgeous eye lashes, which were emphasised by the tears, and a cute little stuffed frog graced HIS lap.
"Oh gosh, well I hope HE feels better soon!", I uttered under my blushing ears.
I swiped my credit card, signed, took my receipt and ran out. How embarrassing. During the short walk from Banana Republic to the mall entrance, I made a point to check out every single stroller that I crossed paths with. I played the, "Boy or girl" game. It was so easy to determine the sex of the baby. Most had clear indications like, ribbons or barrettes in hair, a train on the t-shirt, or little size -7 Puma's. I felt a little better, and blamed me not knowing the sex of the baby at B. Republic the fault of the mother.
I thought I was over it, until it popped up in my movie reel later that night. What would I have said differently? Oh, that was easy! I would have just said, "awwwww, poor thing". Even though a baby is not a "thing", at least...I don't know, no...I didn't feel right about calling him a "thing" either. I could have said, "awwww. Why are YOU crying, sweetie?" Yeah, I felt good about saying that. But, would I only have said that if the Mother spoke to me first? Are babies like dogs? Should you ask permission from the owner before you pet or interact with them? Some parents are weird about that. I mean, right? As I hit rewind, recalling the features of the baby, I most likely made his features more feminine than they actually were. Anything to justify my mistake. Yeah, HE did look more like a girl. It's not MY fault that I called him a her. Then I started to blame the mother, like, "what the heck lady, put your kid in a Pistons jersey or something". After I replayed that scene, all elements fully controlled by me, I was able to move on. At least for that night.
There are many frames in my movie reel that continuously come up. Literally, for years I have hit rewind to try to recreate how things could have been. What I would have said differently, what I wish he would have said. Then I hit "fast forward", and create these fantastical scenes with him and I. What would I say if I saw him again? What would he say. How would I say it? Details down to word selection and hand movements are addressed in my movie reel-I direct the whole thing. I am the key grip, stylist, producer, director, actor, stand in, extra, writer. Everything. It can be the most liberating experience, until you hit pause. Then you realize that this scene is holding you back from rolling the credits. Credits are closure. I mean, right?
We should find comfort in knowing that we have control over something that no one else can possibly begin to understand. It is one thing to share with a friend over coffee what your dreams and amibitions are. It is a completely different thing to control those dreams and amibitions. At least, the way you would want them to play out. Every detail. Every word. I just need to hit fast forward more than rewind. I mean, right?