I saw the film "La Land" tonight with my siblings in a dark theatre. I fell in love, head over heels love, with the opening scene. And by the climax, I was sobbing my eyes out until the end credits: trying desperately to keep my sobs at quiet and respectful bay in the midst of a crowd, holding their breath. That's what my theatre was doing the entire film, it seemed, (or most of it)...holding their breath. And by the end, a flash of thought told me "you should write about this. About why it's making you cry (pardon my French) so damn much." Yes. When something moves you, when art moves you to create...that's when you know you've struck a chord with something inside you. You've struck gold, as they say.
The ending was nothing like I expected, but everything I needed. Mia and both get their dreams. Get their "pipe-dreams", as Mia says to during a fight. Mia married another, even after the words muttered, "I will always love you" to hang in the air. As the film took me through Mia's imagination and memory combined of everything that had happened, I wept. I saw the Boy and myself there, and saw my imagination alongside hers. Everything that could have been mine, but is not. Everything that we could have done, but did not. The ebb and flow of memory and imagination, of past and dreaming past; I wept for all that the Boy and I could not have. I wept most as Mia and exchange a look, with almost no expression on their faces, and I saw myself and the Boy mirrored in their faces: trying to understand what was dream and what was past reality.
This film helped me grieve like nothing else has, thus far. It made me feel un-alone, that someone understood the grief and the hope and the confusion about past and present lives that still co-exist.
Of course, the great focus on jazz touched a soft and delicate part of my heart. I was raised on jazz. My grandfather played the , played the keyboard, played all these instruments. His passion is jazz and forever will be jazz. As he said once to me, "I hope I'll be playing until I die." I saw him mirrored in life as well. It haunted me and enlivened me to see a younger Dennis Dobbs live before me on the screen. It was terrifying, how similar all these struggles that had about following and understanding his passion, and what that would look like.
Again, Mia was my mirror. She grabbed my hand and pulled me into her shoes when she stood before telling him she wasn't worthy, that she wasn't enough, that it hurt too much to continue working for her passion. In the song she sings for her final audition, I see myself: a lone, terrified storyteller, with stories to tell but with the smallest kernel of courage to tell them. A dreamer, a foolish dreamer. A hopeful romantic.
This film, so far as I can say realistically, was something that I needed in my life, right now. It was something I didn't know I needed, but yet something I have been waiting for all along. It showed me parts of myself I forgot I had in me: my roots, my story, my foolish fears and stupid excuses. It guided me through my grief and reminded me that I still want to live my life for myself and for no one else.
Thank you, La Land.