Archive for the ‘independence’ Category

The other night, I streamed a couple of movies. It had been one of those days when I had needed a nap in the afternoon and had ended up sleeping more than I wanted to so then I couldn’t sleep that night. So I went to my watch list and picked one. Redwood Highway while being a 2013 movie is also the name of one of my favorite highways in California. In that stretch of Redwood Highway that goes from the Golden Gate Bridge to the northern coastal tip of the state (this stretch is not only U.S. Route 199 but also U.S. Route 199), one can get a condensed view of what California has to offer…the big city, wide open fields, vineyards, the rocky yet serene shores of the Pacific Ocean, and the California redwoods, to name just a few of the gems found along this stretch of the Redwood Highway in California.

So when I picked this movie to add to my watch list, I picked it expecting to see some of the familiar sights along the Redwood Highway, as well as because of the synopsis which tells us that Marie, a resident of a retirement home, feeling neglected by her family, decides to embark on an 80 mile journey to her granddaughter’s wedding, on foot. Doesn’t that sound interesting? That’s all I read of the synopsis. That was enough.

I was not disappointed. Shirley Knight plays Marie who is in her 70’s and lives in a retirement home (we’re not told where but from photos, it appears to be somewhere in the area of Rogue River, Oregon) where her son placed and sort of forgot about her. She doesn’t have much family, only her son and a granddaughter who doesn’t visit her. Marie feels that she has been forced to live in the retirement home where she has been abandoned. She had lived in her own home until her son sold it and moved her out. She feels like she has lost control of her life and others are making the decisions for her. Her journey is inspiring and surprising. What struck me was that over and over Marie had been made to feel like she had no control over her life. Because she had reached an elderly age, those around her made all of her decisions, not always based on what was best for her but what was easiest for them. Marie’s life had been hijacked; stolen without her permission. This solo 80 mile trip, by herself, on foot, was the only way she could take back control of her life. And so she did it.

It’s an enjoyable movie. It also features Tom Skerritt (one of my favorite actors) as one of the many people she meets on her journey and one of the only ones that truly understands her.

After that movie, I streamed Renoir, a movie about the last few years of artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s life (French language with English subtitles). At least that’s the setting. The story is more about the relationship between Jean Renoir, the artist’s son and Andree, one of the artist’s models. But what struck me about this movie was the way that Pierre-Auguste Renoir maintained control of his of life, even in his last years. He didn’t slow down. He didn’t stop painting, even though his health was quite poor. He suffered from, among other things, arthritis which left his hands painfully deformed. He had to have an assistant strap and position his hands, placing the brush in his fingers before he could paint. This assistant also had to mix his fill his palette with the colors he chose. He could no longer position his models or dress them with any props. He had to have others do that for him. Yet he continued because to him, to stop painting, which had been his life’s work, would be to stop living and to give in to death.
Both of these films had aging as a topic. Aging and its consequences and how those around us treat us when we age. They both dealt with the loss of, not only our youth, but also of control over our lives. They gave me a lot to think about as I age. I think we would all benefit from thinking about these issues. Do we let go of control and allow others to take that control from us? Do we allow ourselves to lose our independence and our dreams because someone thinks we are too old? Lots to think about in these movies. In fact, I’ll probably watch again.
Note: Both of these titles are available on Netflix as well as on Amazon Instant View.

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Room Mates~Part 3

When my daughter moved here last year, she didn’t know anyone but she did have a couple of people to look up from her LiveJournal and MySpace pages. A few months after moving here, she was able to meet both girls and begin a Real Life friendship. Last May, one of the girls (I’ll call her J) began a new job and within a few weeks, she told my daughter T about some openings at the same place where she was working. My daughter filled out the application, had an interview and was hired in no time at all. Now the two girls work at the same place doing the same thing and although they have conflicting shifts most of the time, they do get to see each other briefly at work. They share a lot of the same friends.

J has begun dating one of their co-workers. However, her parents whom she lives with, don’t like the young man she is dating because he is not good enough for her, in their words. While I know all parents want the best for their children, J’s parents’ reason for saying he isn’t good enough for her are racial. The new boyfriend, M, is part Native American, part Puerto Rican, and part this and that. J’s parents went so far as to not allow her to have the keys to her car if she was going to see M. Then they forbade her to see him. J answered by moving out of her parents’ house and moving in with M. (I will also note here that J’s parents refuse to talk to her or see her since she moved out of their house. J is 24 years old.) The house they rented has a couple of extra bedrooms. My daughter, T, was invited to move into one of them.

T and I went to go see the house before making the decision to move there or not. I’d like to note that I did not invite myself on the house visit. T asked me to go with her. We got to the house and J showed us around. I hadn’t met her before and I thought she was acting a little strange; kind of removed from the whole situation. My daughter liked the house and the room that would be hers and especially the fact that she’d be paying about half of what she was currently paying for one room in a small apartment. She decided to move there but was putting it off until her room mate (E from Part 2) had someone to share the rent with. (E’s boyfriend was coming back from Iraq in a few weeks and planned on moving in with E.) However, they had a falling out and T ended up moving last week.

I helped to take a couple of loads of T’s things to the new place. J was there to let us in and again acted kind of detached. I said nothing until the next day. I asked T if J was always “kinda weird” and she said no. Then she told me that she had called her to have a talk with her and offered to not move in if J was having second thoughts about having her there. J apologized for acting cold and so unfriendly. Then she told my daughter the reason. The reason made my heart go out to J but also made me feel bad for T. J’s explanation was that she was having some problems with the fact that I accompanied my daughter to see the house before my daughter even moved there and her parents hadn’t even seen the house and she’d been there for over a month. She was feeling jealous that my daughter and I have a good relationship.

It’s a sad reason and a very emotional one. I can understand. My daughter can understand. However, it is not our fault that J’s relationship with her parents has collapsed. So how do they proceed? Will they be able to get past this? I sure hope so. I’d hate to think that this “problem” will end their friendship and that my daughter will have to move again. I also don’t want my daughter to feel anything but excitement about her new place and a new start.

Room mates can be a god sent, but they can also be a nightmare.

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