I’ve been bedridden this entire past week with what I believe might have been the flu. Dry cough, fever of 103, body aches; I felt awful. Tuesday was the height of my fever, at which I felt delirious at one point, and being unable to read or do anything of substance, I decided I’d watch Brooklyn on Netflix.
Before I left Baltimore for Ireland this past summer, I saw that it would be screened in Mount Vernon Place during their summer movie series. I was really interested to see it, but unfortunately (maybe fortunately, as you will understand later) it wasn’t scheduled to be shown until after I had left. Forgotten for about a month, I came across a copy of the book on which it was based, written by Colm Toibin,at the Mecca of new/used bookstores, Chapters, in Dublin. This writer, I’d been hearing, was being hailed as one of Ireland’s best contemporary authors. So, I decided to pick it up.
I must say, I didn’t find anything spectacular about the writing, in style or in prose, but it was a good story and one I easily engaged with. I try to throw in “fluff” novels in between my heavier reading, reading that can tedious to get through at times but ultimately challenges and inspires me. I tend to dog ear pages in books I’m reading that have insightful or meaningful quotes. Some of my books have dozens of these little folded corners. This one has none.
While Molly was here and we were away in Limerick, we touched upon the subject of literature and I asked if she had read Brooklyn. She wasn’t aware that it was a book first but highly recommended the movie. I’m usually very skeptical about what other people consider a good movie, but she sold me talking about the director’s use of light to color the moods and scenery. I decided I would give it a try.
Aside from the fact the cinematography was beautifully done, the character selection was perfect; the acting was realistic which made it relatable. And while the movie stayed very true to the book, I found that it resonated with me in a much deeper way. I think there are certain things films can portray that the written word cannot; it was those moments of silence at the family dinner table before she left, her departure on the boat. Moments that I myself could relate to yet, at the time they occurred, also could not verbalize.
I found myself sobbing through the entirety of the movie because I genuinely felt for the main character Eilis and understood the whirlwind of emotions she was facing and, looking outside the parameters of the film, would always face due to her choice to leave her old life in Ireland. I felt that the overarching theme of the movie was about being stuck between two worlds: one that holds your family and familiar friends and surroundings, and the other filled with adventure and change. This is where I find myself.
Before I left for Spain in 2014, I remember standing in the driveway of my Grandma’s house with my Mom. She looked at me, confused, as my lower lip quivered and my eyes filled with tears. “What’s wrong?” She asked, brows knitted. As I moved forward to hug her, I said the only thing that could explain how I was feeling: “I don’t know.”
Leaving home, or my idea of home, is as painful to me as staying. I’m not meant to be caged; routine and familiarity are the bars that hold me captive. But, that doesn’t mean that leaving everything behind is easy. On the contrary, the act of saying that last goodbye each time I leave lets loose what I can only describe as a black tornado of regret in my gut that threatens to rip me apart. I’m acutely aware of the pain I cause my family and friends, but at the same time I know I am saving myself from the same feeling. In this scenario, I always spare myself.
I’ve been struggling a lot lately with the prospect of the future. Next week is the last week of classes before we go into finals. I would be naive to think that the spring term won’t go by just as fast. Before I know it, I’ll have to make some tough decisions regarding where I’ll go next and what I’ll do. I have several ideas but don’t know which one is right yet. All the time though, I struggle with this feeling of being torn between two worlds. I want to do right by the people who want me home, but I have to be loyal to myself and what I understand about my precarious search for happiness.