I just got home from seeing “Singin’ in the Rain” on a big screen at my local SoCal theater. Or well, what passes for a big screen at those huge multiplex theaters.
I have seen this movie dozens of times; never on anything but a house sized screen. I remember watching it more than once in my childhood home in suburban Minneapolis as thunderstorms rolled through the night. My bedroom was upstairs which was deemed not safe with big trees and big wind. So I would watch, curled up on the couch, in the living room, much safer, the sharp smell of irises in a vase on the coffee table and the flickering lights of what I think was the PBS spring fund drive showing Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and the woman my grandma called “her little Debbie Reynolds” dancing and well, singing in the rain. It feels like it was the childhood sign of the coming summer. Irises, thunderstorms and tap dancing in puddles.
Seeing the movie big and loud tonight I still feel that sting of iris in my nostrils.
We carry pockets of who we are with us as we stumble through life.
I must have watched this movie with my grandmother, my father’s mother, although I don’t really remember it. Maybe it was one of those half-asleep childhood memories that gets imprinted deep and hard on your psyche. My grandmother, she loved Debbie Reynolds and held Elizabeth Taylor as an enemy combatant for stealing Eddie Fisher well into the 1980s. As a child I had no idea what any of that meant. But I knew that my beloved grandmother used all these words: “my little Debbie Reynolds” and that meant she was mine too.
I even felt a sisterhood with Carrie Fisher when I learned that she was Little Debbie Reynolds’ daughter. Now they are both gone. My grandmother has been gone nearly 35 years. My dad has even been gone for more than two years.
Tonight, I saw the movie my grandmother loved with the young starlet she loved. She was almost my age when that movie came out. Seeing it brought me home to irises and thunderstorms and a time when all of those people were still alive. It’s a long time ago, now. But really, not more than a moment.
It’s all right here in this pocket I carry to remind me just who I really am.