Archive for May 9th, 2007

Harold and Maude
I’ve been accused of being Maude-like in a “Harold and Maude” sort of way, given my proclivity for younger men and a grab-the-brass-ring tendency to jettison stuff and security when something wonderful floats by, but in reality I can only dream of emulating the late, great Ruth Gordon’s rendition of the tiny larger-than-life character that is Marjorie Chardin, aka Maude. (To be honest, the comparisons aren’t meant kindly, but I take them that way, nonetheless.)

Should I ever reach the venerable age of ‘eighty on Saturday’ I can only hope that I’ll have it in me to wear kimonos, sing, dance, stick daisies in my hair and pose nude for artists. (In deference to my darling husband, I won’t wax all lyrical-like about snuggling for sunsets with a 22-year-old … and so on … but I have to admit the scene brings a pang.)

I watched the movie last night for the first time in years and fell in love with it, and them, all over again.

When I saw it in 1971 it was a movie about youth and yearning and learning that made me laugh. Funny how it’s morphed into an over-the-shoulder glance toward acceptance and contentment that I now find comforting.

The nostalgia it prompted kept me awake most of the night. So much of it was shot where my childhood played out … places I haven’t seen in many, many years … and those locations overlaid with the texture of the times in the costumes, the Cat Stevens music, and the 70s qualities of the images, so very ‘of its time’, set off a thrumming as the film resonates on so many levels.

One reverberation has to do with how different the 2007 world is from the 1971 … not in the sense of what’s been added, but what’s been taken away.

Seeing the art constructions on the mud flats off I-80 near Emeryville transported me to the back seat of my parent’s Ford when my brothers and I … all kids under 10 … couldn’t wait until we passed, craning our necks for a good look at what was new in that ever-changing outdoor exhibit of creativity and political opinion. They were removed from the scene before I was, and I have no idea what there is to look at from that stetch of freeway these days.

And the old Dumbarton Bridge! I understand it was replaced in the 80s, but it’s been thirty years or so since I was needing to get across to visit Aunt Mary.

The scene mentioned above, the one I refrain from allowing myself to place a future version of me in should a quarter century still find me here, when Harold notices the concentration camp tattoo on Maude’s inner arm, for example. The shot lasts a second or two, so short that a young viewer now would miss it completely … yes, and the Dreyfuss quote will pass over many heads, too. In 1971 the world had many people wearing the nazi brand … their memories were alive and walking around. That doesn’t happen much now, if at all. My generation is the last that will see numbers on an arm flash by and react from the gut. That time is finished, we’ve moved on, and history is swallowing much of what I was taught to believe was as permanent a scar on the soul of humanity as anything could ever be.

Not so. It’s all an eye blink.

My father, Aunt Mary, Ruth Gordon … all dead now, and for some reason ‘Harold and Maud’ has me missing them and wishing I’d lived a little bit more every day of 1971 and since.

I lost a ring in the sea here 14 years ago, and I find myself looking for it every time I snorkel. Not any more. From now on, I’ve decided, “I’ll always know where it is”.

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