The carwash brushes swirl the soap back and forth, back and forth across the windshield. The light reflects off the thick bubbles. There’s a faint slap-slap every time the rubber part hits the glass. Hypnotic. Peaceful.
Cut to the Jewish Community Center. Boxes of something are being packed and organized for a food drive, or a fundraiser or a holiday carnival. “Smile, Girls, I’m going to put this on Facebook and tag you all,” the volunteer in charge says.
She’s a writer. She studied Journalism at college and now she’s a stay-at-home-mom with a blog. Most days she’s still in her sweats when her husband comes home at 6pm, because if she stops to actually get dressed it’s all over.
Ever seen the movie Afternoon Delight? It stars Kathryn Hahn as Rachel – the confused, trying-to-figure-it-out, Jewish, writer-mom-volunteer who finds tremendous solace and inner peace at the carwash. Fifteen minutes into the movie I wonder if writer/director Jill Soloway had been spying on me for several months.
That’s what makes great art great – movies, books, songs that imitate life. That viewers, readers and listeners can relate to: Hey, that kinda happened to me! Wow, I felt that way too. I remember a break-up like that. A family Christmas when that exact thing happened. Sneaking out with my best friend… We love those movies. We love feeling that our experiences and feelings are shared by others. It gives us a sense of belonging, of normalcy even, at a time when we felt left out and different.
But there’s something disconcerting about watching my life play out with uncanny accuracy in a movie, Hollywood or otherwise. While it’s comforting to know that others have similar experiences, that I’m (obviously) not the only Journalism grad who didn’t make a real career out of it, it’s unsettling, uncomfortable and really difficult to watch. On a big screen. From the outside looking in, but also from the inside feeling out.
In Afternoon Delight Rachel is trying so hard to figure it out, she invites a down-and-out young stripper to come live with her and her family. Rachel wants to save her. And of course, we can see, this has trouble written all over it. Rachel really has the best intentions, she loves this woman, wants to help her – but her mom-friends don’t like it so much, her husband doesn’t want to like it, her friends’ husbands love it.
Complicated situations, tested relationships, and at the end of this Hollywood movie, Rachel realizes much about herself and her marriage, and she and her husband indeed figure it all out. The End.
There are times I wish I could yell “That’s a wrap!” and high-five myself and everyone around me that yeah it’s all perfect, and worked out for the best, and everything’s good, no great! But life is not like the movies. Thank G-d. I may be a frustrated Journalism graduate, who volunteers at the JCC and drives a minivan. But I haven’t brought an exotic dancer home (yet!) and my afternoon delight is usually a cup of tea and 20 minutes with a good book.
Nope – not like the movies. And that’s a good thing.
This post was written as part of the April A to Z Challenge. To read more of my A to Z posts click here.