Yesterday Mark and I drove into Lawn Guyland to see his Mom before her trip to Chile. We caught an early showing of 'There Will Be Blood', the new Daniel Day Lewis film directed by P.T. Anderson. Having seen this movie and 'No Country for Old Men', I am completely worn out. Both were incredibly intense.
I won't post any spoilers, but I will say that the acting was tremendous all around (Day Lewis, of course, and Paul Dano, who was perfectly cast as the priest). The music and visuals were excellent.
Mark doesn't like going to the movies, what with the high ticket prices, the crowds and sometimes obnoxious theatergoers who talk to each other, use their phones and kick your chair. So for the last couple years, I haven't seen many movies on the big screen. Now it's an utter shock when I go.
When movies are on tv, they're at a comfortable distance. The lights are on. The cat is nearby and I can always switch the thing off. Even so, I've gotten soft in my old age. Violence shocks me. The mangled bodies that routinely appear on 'CSI' or 'Law and Order' induce a mild anxiety. Magnify the scene a kajillion times and I am there in the darkened room or wide open plain. Add the spooky music, and I am cowering behind my hands.
Mark doesn't understand. 'They're just actors! It's a set!'
It's absurd for me to be such a chicken. New York is remarkably safe these days. Though the police still randomly check bags at subway stations, I'm not living in a war zone with bombs flying or suicide bombers. Help is a dial away on the cell phone. We have rights. We have it good.
In the video games Mark and I've been playing, we race desert dune buggies down swoopy ramps that send us hurtling into space. Mark and I yell out loud when the car flips over and bursts into flames. My feet sweat with nerves. I've become used to placing myself in the big screen.
I have to wonder: Have we really gotten to the point where it's more exciting to sit at home, risking our virtual lives racing cars instead of experiencing real life?
As a follow-up question, what does it mean to really live? Is 'really living' travelling to Chile or trekking in Machu Picchu? Is it starting a business from scratch? Is 'really living' raising three kids on your own or throwing lavish parties without thinking of the bill?
It used to be that I thought living on the edge in New York was 'really living'. The romantic idea of the artist's life in a grungy Williamsburg loft appealed to me (this was before the hipster invasion). I had the fantasy of collecting furniture pieces left out for collection and creating retrofitted pieces from them. (What they'd really look like, I don't know, but they'd be cool and functional).
I never got quite that far. I lived on the Upper West Side (much, much cushier) in a tiny two-room studio. I trucked up and down the four flights to my apartment with bags of laundry or groceries. I had a laughable kitchen.
Now I live in Brooklyn, on the second floor. There's an elevator. The laundromat is right around the corner. Mark has a car. We have escape mechanisms like Playstation. We order out. Part of me feels guilty about living such a relatively cushy life. But is this really living as opposed to my former Manhattan struggle?
I don't have an answer. But there's a part of me that loves to tear through the desert without a thought to anything like personal safety or the cops. I don't have to deal with crowds, smoke or damaged limbs.
All I need is a video game, a big tv and a bucketload of time.
Photos by myself at the Farmer's Market in Union Square, where you can get eggs, veggies and honey fresh from local farms.