Saturday, September 13, 2014

On Watching Brendan Gleeson Play a Dad

Drafter's Note: If my handwriting were more legible--it can be legible, but when I'm writing for myself it shifts more toward glyphs than characters--I'd just post photos of my marked-up, crossed-out, arrow-studded pages that I worked on yesterday at the picnic table outside Trader Joe's. Writing is indeed a beautiful mess.

There's no such thing an as old revelation, I suppose. As countless as they may be, each wave of realization hits hard, cold, breath-stealing. Like New England ocean water, there is no adjusting to the shock, unless you use "adjustment" as a euphemism for "numbing."

This is a movie about other things--heavy, important, life things--but it is this moment that arrests me, the blow hitting without warning, cutting off breath. A simple enough moment for most--obvious, assumed, almost unnecessary. A grown woman, scarred and bandaged from life's wars, becomes a child as she is folded in against him, his arm crossing and enfolding her. Tears--not of abandon, only of leaking, of honest overflow--and stillness. Quiet, the verb. Father, the noun.

The French make a dissection of the idea of knowing: je sais (I am aware of; surface-level; "I know her name") and je connais (I know fully, deeply; total comprehension and gut-level; "I know her--she's my wife.") I do not know, have never known this movie moment by experience. I recognize this scene as I would a foreign phrase I can parcel into my own--I could give you the gist of it. Je sais, but je ne connais pas. I cannot feel the scratch of stubble or smell the half dozen parts that meld precisely into his scent. There were embraces, but in them I held my breath and was someone else.

This is an old study for me--you would think I'd run dry of words for it. But years aren't balms so much as ice packs--there is a dulling and distancing of pain, but it takes nearly nothing to feel every nerve and capillary. Wounded and healed all at once.

Moments like this used to break me--wails of why, heaving tremors of self-pity. And echoes of that remain, if I dwell, if I linger and wait it out. But even in that stillness, if I am still enough, I can feel it: not the stubble, it's true, but a closeness; no, not a scent, but a shift in pressure--the repercussions of being quieted. If were speaking truth, it's not what I wish I had had, because I ache for the palpable pieces of this world. But it is devastatingly massive, heart-seizingly unreal to contemplate: the sculptor of stars wrapping His Spirit around me, not for any other purpose than to be felt and known. It is insane--no other word comes close. Crazy and true all at once.

I smile now, in these moments. Sometimes through tears. The hurt is still there, down in the deeper canyons, but I rejoice for the way life should be when I see it: when a friend scoops up his crying toddler and murmurs in her ear; when Remus tells Harry he is broken to leave his son, but he dies to give him a better world. The little notes that vibrate, in life and in fiction, validating that a little broken is not all broken, and that gaping wounds are healed one stitch, one day, one prayer at a time.

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