A history of my life through movies

Some people measure their lives by special occasions, by birthdays and holidays and milestones. But when you tally up the events of your life, sometimes you remember them through smaller things: dresses, ice cream cones, beaches you’ve seen, necklaces you’ve loved and misplaced. This is an account from our contributor of a life remembered in movie moments.

Beauty and the Beast: While The Lion King will rack up more viewings in your house, this will be the Disney movie whose heroine you relate to most. You will sing at the top of your tiny lungs in a field behind your parents’ house, and because of Belle, it will never occur to you that reading might be considered uncool.

The Sound of Music: You will tape this movie with your VCR one Thanksgiving when NBC airs it, and you will play it to death. One morning during Christmas break you will go down to the family room in the basement for another viewing and suddenly you will hear someone quietly singing along from the couch. You will realize your visiting uncle has been sleeping there, unbeknownst to you. “You can keep watching,” he will tell you, “but would you mind turning the light back out?” Years later, he will come out to your family, at age 50, when you are in your 20s. You will send him a postcard of Julie Andrews in a show of support.

Yellow Submarine: You will watch this over and over and identify more closely with “Nowhere Man” than a nine-year-old girl probably should. A lifelong love of the Beatles will begin with what you will see as a candy-colored cartoon. You won’t know what everyone else means about the whole substances thing until years later when you show it to you high school American history class as part of an interactive report on the 1960s.

Friday the 13th: You will nervously agree to watch your first horror movie at a Halloween-themed sleepover. As fake movie blood spurts onscreen, the other girls at your best friend’s house will shriek as you cover your eyes and wait for commercial breaks. You will not sleep for days and your parents will tell you you’re not allowed to watch movies like that anymore.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: You will watch this movie with your mom, who liked Truman Capote. She will not go into the differences between the movie and novella with you but you’ll learn them later. For now, all you know is that you have been introduced to the idea of living in a city and you deeply wish you were a brunette. Your mom will catch you pretending a plastic bendy straw is a cigarette holder and she will simply shake her head.

Almost Famous: You will watch this movie about teens your age following a rock band across the country on a tour bus and you will vacillate wildly between desperately wanting to be either a journalist or a groupie. Your parents won’t know which you land on until you fill out your “senior spotlight” questionnaire for the local paper and announce your intentions to major in journalism. They will beam and breathe sighs of relief that you opted out of becoming Penny Lane.

Kill Bill: In the living room of your campus house, you will watch both volumes one and two with your college boyfriend on Valentine’s Day 2007, when classes are cancelled because it is too cold to be outside. Two weeks after a brain cancer diagnosis, your mom will be staying upstairs with you, because the furnace is broken at your parents’ rural home and she is too sick to be that cold. Years later you will find yourself thinking of that February’s chill when you read Uma Thurman’s name and it will take you a second to remember why.

The Fountain: In a haze in the weeks after your mother’s funeral, and after you have graduated from college with your shiny new degree, you will watch this movie about a woman dying from brain cancer. You won’t come out of your room for a few days.

500 Days of Summer: You will be living with your college boyfriend, who is now your post-college boyfriend, when you see this in the theater together. Afterward he will imply that Zooey Deschanel’s character should have stayed with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s and you will realize you live in terror of your boyfriend proposing. You will decide to break up with him but not actually do it for several more weeks.

Away We Go: You will see this movie about Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski taking a road trip to find a new home and you will realize you love road trip movies. More so, you must admit you cannot resist a twee road trip movie in which a female protagonist has lost her mom as a young adult. Now that you’re single again and working at a job you hate, you will squirm a little restlessly as this movie makes you think about finding a new home in a different city and state.

Morning Glory: You will take yourself to see this little-remembered movie in Chicago, your new city, where you don’t yet know anyone. You will watch a young reporter pull herself up from her wreck of a life and take control of it in her new surroundings. You don’t know it yet, but you will make the most of your new life. You will get a good job, and then a better job. You will make friends and meet great guys and live a full life off screen. Your mom would have enjoyed the person you become.

[Image via iStock]

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