Daddy Long Legs
February 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
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I had a quiet and very enjoyable Valentine’s Day. Lisa came for dinner with champagne, and we talked for hours. Charles is here and gave me red roses, which Fitzroy nibbled on, and I bought a chocolate cake which I’m going to finish off shortly.
Saturday night we watched Daddy Long Legs, a new independent movie about a slightly crazed, scruffy divorced father in Manhattan, in (nominal) charge of his two young sons for his annual 2 weeks. It’s made to look like a movie from the late 70’s and the characters and attitudes are consistent with that era: the time when Charles was a slightly crazed, scruffy divorced father often overwhelmed by his children. And I was 18 or 22 and trying to be a good girlfriend then stepmother while keeping a necessary distance: mostly kind, helpful, observant and as selfish as I had to be.
The movie character was more irresponsible than we were (that’s our story anyway, and we’re sticking to it) but the fights with the ex-wife, the anxiety about childcare and last minute problems were very familiar. Before I even read about this movie I had a dream that I was back in that situation—Charles and Janet fighting about the kids, me off to the side with a sick sense that nobody was right—and it was even more awful than the reality had been. The reality, like most realities, had the advantage of feeling inevitable. The dream was an invasion. Then Charles arrived and we had a good time, and the movie was a funny/sad reminder of the way we were.
It makes sense that we’re so silly now with the cats, who perform the function of children with minimal fuss. We can shower them with love and feel cozy, spend a little money on treats, and not only is there no ‘real’ mother out there to harass us, the children can’t even speak up to tell us all the ways in which we’re inadequate. I can believe whatever I want about what’s going on in their heads, and frankly I don’t mind at all knowing that I’m spinning fantasy.
We watched Daddy Long Legs on TV, VOD. It’s worth seeing, if you like rambling, character-driven stories, low key, real life. It helps to know it was made by two brothers who lived through a childhood similar to that of the boys in the movie. They survived and flourished.
This Was Once a Love Poem
This was once a love poem, before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short, before it found itself sitting, perplexed and a little embarrassed, on the fender of a parked car, while many people passed by without turning their heads. It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement. It remembers choosing these shoes, this scarf or tie. Once, it drank beer for breakfast, drifted its feet in a river side by side with the feet of another. Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy, dropping its head so the hair would fall forward, so the eyes would not be seen. It spoke with passion of history, of art. It was lovely then, this poem. Under its chin, no fold of skin softened. Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat. What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall. An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks. The longing has not diminished. Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat, the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus. Yes, it decides: many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots. When it finds itself disquieted by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life, it will touch them-one, then another- with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame. --Jane Hirshfield
Dear Fitzroy: You didn’t love me when I firmly held you and propped up your chin for our first dual portrait. But on Valentines day this year I felt love between us. Once again, I am an absent father. I truly love all of my children. I hope I can continue to visit all of my family so my love doesn’t grow languid like this poor little love poem.