Monday, August 4, 2014

When you prepare to give birth to a baby, the first thing you think about is the excitement of finally getting to meet the little person who has been incubating for 40 weeks, give or take a few. You also grapple with, for the first time in a real, no turning back way, the legendary physical pain of getting said baby out of your body. I have likened that sensation of realizing that the birthing is inevitable, to the realization that your boat is about to go over the waterfall, and you have no paddle, or helmet. You hope the equipment and your body, along with the raging forward movement, don't all join forces to take you or your baby out. You pray. You worry. You breathe. You grit your teeth, and you do what you need to do. In the end, no one's description of their own war stories of birthing can prepare you for the pain that you endure in order to bring another life into the world. It is also true that no one can prepare you for the depth of the love that comes over you, as you enter into one of the truly miraculous wonders of the world.

If you do your job right, you begin on that very day of their birth, or for those who become parents via adoption, on that very day of homecoming, preparing your new little soul, and your own, for their eventual separation from you when you launch them out of the nest and into the world. So many moments of launchings...first step, pre-school, kindergarten, overnight camp, high school, travel abroad. But with each of those steps, they circle back to you with tales of their discoveries and adventures, and the world is right again, because they are back under your wing. For the moment. The real launch looms in the too quickly arriving ceremonious send-off to life, via their freshman year at university. No matter how many books you read, or how many stories are shared with you from parents who get a certain look in their eyes of joy and pride mixed with sadness and mourning, no matter how many of these you amass, you will not be ready. You will fret about whether you properly prepared them, equipped them with all the necessary tools, warned them of all of the possible pitfalls. You make the most of every last morsel of time with them, being sure to catalogue each moment in your mind, so that it can be savored in their absence. You pour over pictures, wondering where that little tiny person, with the feet upon which you counted each toe a thousand times over, has disappeared to, leaving this young adult behind in their place.

The movie, Boyhood, captures this journey from little people to young adult launching into the world, unlike any other film before it. Written, directed, and co-produced by Richard Linklater, it was shot for one week per year, over a 12 year period, rendering a scripted, real life time-lapse view of the family of a young boy, Mason, as they do their best to all grow up, both parents and brother and sister. As a mom of a girl who is about to fly away into her freshman year at university, it held so many bittersweet truisms for me and my lovie, that it felt as though our life together had been the subject of a supreme covert spying operation. Apparently, this daily splitting in two of my heart, in order for her to do exactly what I have raised her to do, isn't so unique, after all. As she and I sat sharing our popcorn for what felt like a fraction of the two hours and forty-five minutes that unfolded the inner-workings of life for this family, it served as a reminder that the cycle of life is a universal truth that binds us all. Just as the final episode of our summer family binge watching of the television show Lost, forced us to talk about what this life we have each been given means, collectively and as a human race,  this story on the big screen left that same debate up in the air, but with less ominous tonality attached. In Lost, we were given a choice in looking at life by seeing meaning in everything, or seeing everything as ultimately meaningless. In Boyhood, we are left with the sense that how we live makes the meaning, no matter the life. Loving, and being present in both our loving of, and being loved, leads to the connections that make it all worth it. The concepts are universal. But the manner in which the film was made, allowed for a thoughtfulness and deliberateness in the story arcs and dialogue of each character to ring true and remain so beautifully and richly focused, that it will inevitably change the landscape of future films that cover a wide swath of time. 

We left feeling good about our growing pains, this baby of mine and me. We have spent the last 10 days together, just us two, in a last hurrah of extended slumber party, all-night talks, and laughing until we are doubled over, while moments later, we are in tears over the realization that this wonderful ride we have enjoyed with one another is about to venture intothe next realm.But, no matter how much I will miss this most-treasured companion of the last 18 years, I have told her that with all honesty, and in equal measure, I am so excited to be the luckiest of spectators to her next chapter. I cannot wait for the talks about the moments of life that she gathers, everywhere she adventures, and the lessons along the way. She has worked so hard to make opportunities for herself, and she has been the kind of daughter that women hope for when your dream is, as I have said many times, to grown future best friends via the grown up versions of my babies. Boyhood captured this time, and all of the steps leading up to it so beautifully, that it can be universally experienced by anyone who has grown up human. Do yourself a favor, and take a special someone to go see it. And, after the credits roll, revel in looking at how far you've come, no matter where you started or happen to be.

(If you are lucky enough to see Boyhood at The ArcLight Cinemas, stick around afterwards for a behind-the-scenes look at the 12 years of filming, and the players thoughts on the film. If you're seeing it elsewhere, take a look here.)

                                                     Official Trailer for Boyhood