Yesterday Emma texted me and told me that she can pay me back in part because she had two gift cards from Starbucks totaling $8 and I said cool, we can use them some time when we go and I had to hurry off shortly because I was going to the Brattle to see a double-bill of The Uninvited and Curse of the Cat People.
She said she was at Starbucks and would like to come. I thought she was in Rhode Island. I guess she had been here for like a day. Who knew. I said, okay, do you have your T pass from school, she says not yet, I ask if she has money for a ticket at the movies, she says no. I say, okay, we'll figure it out. This was going to mean "piggybacking"--an Emma turn for ripping off the MBTA--at the turnstile where you go through, with her following behind me before the gate snaps shut, but there were two T cops directly in front of us--I cannot believe--only I can, because I live this--that life has laid me so low that this is actually something I might do now. So I got her a subway ticket instead, despite Emma saying, "dude, they're looking at their phones."
When we last went to the Brattle a scary old woman yelled at us outside of the T stop. We were laughing. Just over whatever we were talking about. Our laughter coincided with two homeless people getting into a fight. A woman who tells your fortune rebuked us, saying there is nothing ever funny about homelessness, and as I fear that I am headed there, that life, which I barely keep myself from snuffing out every day--and I nearly did end things on Sunday, it was one of those days--will get worse yet, I agree. But we were not laughing about the two men, and besides, just because you're homeless doesn't mean you're not a person and get to just be a dick. I would think that automatically granting that license to a homeless person is dehumanizing. But yes, I understand the mental illness component that is often present, and the substance abuse issues. The lack of support. I get all of that. Emma was terror-stricken. This woman really freaked her out. I said, relax, my little friend, she's not well, it has nothing to do with you.
So we get off the T and she's like, "Do we have to see that woman?" I asked if she was scared. We could always get her future told and she could learn how the future will be. If that helps her relax. I was wearing jeans, which Emma recently made fun of, and when we were on the T I asked if she wanted to resume making fun of me--they're fine, they're just jeans--and she said "sometimes for things to say I just decide to stick it to you." Goes both ways. She gets all bold, tells me that she's not scared of having her future told, it's all BS anyway. I say, okay, but what if she says that a bad end awaits you, in three years. Or, better yet, for her purposes, she says three to five years. You're not going to be watching the calendar? That three to five years bit really kicks it up a level. I walk her past the Brattle, to where the old fortune teller sits--sounds like a Universal horror film, right?--and now she's all freaked out. Fortune teller wasn't there. I say we'll have to check after the films. It's important to be prepared. Make fun of my jeans, will you.
I'm not sure why, but Emma's movie ticket for the double-bill was free, covered by my membership. They must give you like one or two free guest passes. I had a couple of coupons from old memberships for two sodas and a bucket of popcorn that I never used. I gave one to Emma and told her to take it up to the counter--as she has the cute kid thing going--and see if it still works or they will honor it if anyway if it's old. She gets a root beer and the biggest bucket of popcorn, which was good, as all she had to eat all day was a croissant. Took her the majority of both movies, but she finished the entire thing on her own. Kind of impressive. During The Uninvited she asked me if there was nudity, and I'm like, sure, yeah, of course, and then she wants to know when, and I say it's coming up, you have to look carefully, and she enjoyed pointing out that Roderick was trying to pick up Stella and had the same thought I always have of "that's an amazing room" when Roderick and his sister go into the haunted room at the beginning and both agree that it's this horrible room. Despite the wall of windows looking out at the sea crashing over the rocks below. I want a room like that someday to compose in. The idea of such a room is in part why I keep going. I'd hang a one sheet poster of The Uninvited in it. This is a lobby card, but a pretty great one.
These are two of my all-time favorite films and I was glad to share them with Emma. She's a girl who speaks about the cinematography after, who you can teach about dissolves--which I did with Curse of the Cat People--and how stories are put together. She preferred Curse of the Cat People. I told her that I prefer The Uninvited, but Curse of the Cat People is the better film, which made her say, "explain." She'll just say that sometimes. "Explain." Curse of the Cat People really is one of the finest films of the 1940s, and it's not coincidence that it and Out of the Past--another of the best films of that decade, or any decade--were shot by Nicholas Musuraca. We talked about the subtle moments in Curse of the Cat People, like the hug at the end between the daughter whose mother won't acknowledge her and the lonely girl at the film's heart, and how quickly that hug is ended, because it was just a moment--it wasn't affection that would last or be revisited. Life is like that. That's how life is. Often. The film is comprised of such moments. We talked about how Simone Simon sings the same carol the carolers sing almost as a descant in French (and why the carolers looked like a Christmas card come to life; that is, we discussed the highly-stylized aspect of the film, its elements of artifice which move it to greater moments of truth). And those dissolves. The way the forest scenes are lit. And Sleepy Hollow. And the way the girl delivers her lines and what a great performance she gives. Naturally, we both did the "my friend" voice a lot of the way back.
We had seen a pit bull before we went in and he seemed to be owned by some homeless people and Emma got upset saying the dog's posture indicated he was scared, and I said he looked okay, maybe he was just tired, she certainly looked in good physical shape, he wasn't hungry or anything. She's always like that with animals. There was a lab on the T coming back, and she asks its owner if she can pet it, and before you know it she's on her knees, hugging the dog, the dog is licking her face, she sits down next to me again, I say gross, dude, and she blows me a kiss and says, "But my friend."
Val Lewton wanted to call the picture Amy and her Friend but the studio would not let him.
She told me as we walked yesterday that four boys from her new school like her already and I said how do you think this works, are you exactly half lesbian and half straight or is it a different percentage and she said she thinks she likes girls more because she likes boys who look more like girls. We were joking about her anxiety--well, I was--saying it seems to be gone now, all fixed, and she said it doesn't work like that and I said I know, buddy, I am only teasing, I just think you're going to be able to deal with anything and you grow so much all of the time but if you ever feel anxious about anything you can tell me and I will always help you. The irony is that I have anxiety attacks now with what is being done to me that I cannot breathe for minutes on end, my chest feels like I am being stabbed, I cry for hours at a time, I vomit almost daily, and now I am passing out repeatedly. But that's not internal stuff, is it? It stems from what occurs here. Anyone else would be dead. A long time ago. I've just had a nervous breakdown, live in constant terror, am all alone, and keep creating better than I ever had before, or anyone ever has before. I just keep doing that, somehow. I don't even know why. I exist now on a faith I am not sure I even have. Not in my ability. I know what my ability is. That is not hard for anyone to know. On there being a point to any of this. The ability. The strength. The art. My life.
This morning Emma knocked on my door after I had composed 2500 words and wanted to know if I would walk Benny with her and maybe could we get cake later? I said okay we will walk Benny and I will see what I can do about the cake, maybe after I do the radio later--I am talking about Andrew Luck and how dishonest I think he is--it will be no surprise to anyone who has heard me on the radio to say that I will be offering a perspective no one else has--plus ballet, plus A Hard Day's Night (the film)--and we can go to Cafe Dello Sport. We were walking Benny and she was talking about "Fitty" again and I hate having to tell this child who knows exactly what that story is, what all of these stories are, that her friend, this person she admires so much, who is so kind to her, is so hated by so many people in his industry, thousands of people, that they will not allow works of art like that to be seen by the public and do so much good in the world as even a child knows they would do. I don't really get into it that much with her that baldly, but she knows, she knows on her own. You can see the anguish on her face for how it makes her feel. I don't read that as anguish primarily for me, but I know it breaks her heart for me. I read it more as anguish for what the world is being denied because of some very hateful people. This is a smart kid. She knows exactly what is at stake. As much as she loves me, she knows that the world needs this even more than I do.