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* During our yearlong lockdown, one thing Larry & I did to entertain ourselves (beyond Costner films – can you believe it?!) was to take turns making playlists for each other and then telling the story behind each song choice. It was a lovely exercise with a recurring theme: cheese. (You might’ve picked up on the fact that we’re fans!)
Yes, each playlist included something invariably silly. Hair metal is a big one for me. Seventies soft rock still tugs at Larry’s heartstrings. What began as a “gotcha!” for a laugh in the middle of our lists got us thinking deeper. And then we realized: those funny songs are our memories. It doesn’t matter how old I am; I’m instantly transported to my hopeful, powerful, teenage self whenever I hear Motley Crue. For Larry, Neil Diamond will always evoke fond memories of his sister. Fleetwood Mac makes us both weep like babies. Songs we played for each other that started out as a joke became mini time machines, connecting us to who we were.
This realization hit me so hard: these people, these musicians – they’ve been with me my whole life. Yeah, I like Fleetwood Mac. Of course I do. But I didn’t realize until I sat in the quiet that they’d been there for me this whole time, holding my heart as they sang in the background. My life and their art had weaved together. They hold the secrets to my past. I haven’t been great about keep a diary (a rather unfortunate “lack of” habit for a writer!), but I can still be transported to my past for free. All I have to do is turn on my stereo.
So, where am I going with this? I’ve realized the same thing about Kevin Costner! When Larry and I watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, I was stunned. Not because it was good – friends, I assure you that it is not. But what took me by surprise was that I’d seen it before and, until this weekend, I had absolutely no recollection of it. (Perhaps through no fault of my own. It is a wholly unforgettable movie.) However, as the plot unspooled it kept feeling more and more familiar, and not just because of the subject matter. It was like a kaleidoscope that slowly created a sharper image. There I was, giggling in the theater with my college girlfriends. We’d gone to see it back in the day because of the allure of Christian Slater – everyone’s “bad boy” crush from the 90’s.
Watching this weekend in my living room brought a different kind of joy. I have an incredibly patient husband by my side who indulges my obsessions, no matter how painful. I’ve written enough, seen a lot, and had a variety of life experiences that offer me different insight. Now I know: there’s nothing original about this movie. Christian Slater is barely in the damn thing and looks miserable in the scenes he is in. Costner – who wowed us at the time – has been roundly mocked for his lack of an English accent paired with his wooden performance. (Um, hello – par for the course. That’s why we love him!)
This movie – it’s all kinds of wrong. At the time, I thought it was pretty damn great. I can see now that it is not. But what remains is the thrill of youth. And that goes for much of his oeuvre. Now I am recalling lip-synching, hairbrush doubling as a microphone, to Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" from The Bodyguard. Kevin's wardrobe from No Way Out sparked a spirited discussion about men's trousers with several friends. (That's as clean as I can make it. My dad reads this!) I remember cuddling with my college boyfriend, an avid cyclist, as we watched American Flyers. Of course, there was Bull Durham - even the least sports-minded person couldn't avoid it and I was no exception. In fact, Kevin has had a movie come out every single year, since 1981. Odds are he's crossed your path too!
I’ve been wondering what’s really been driving this ridiculous "Film Festival of Two" quest and now I know. Kevin is a time machine, and he’s been with me all along.
What’s your time machine? I encourage you to revisit something that’s brought you happiness back in the day and see how it feels to you now. What does it evoke and how do you feel about the memories that surface? You might be surprised at the beauty cheese can hold. I hope you have as much fun with this delightful exercise as we're having!
* In the world: We are celebrating Zaila Avant-garde, the 14-year old who just made history as the first Black American student to win the National Spelling Bee competition! This mile-marker is only the beginning for this talented young lady. Here’s a cheers to good news!