A Rite Of Passage

17 of November 2013

My whole life I’ve always been around people quoting Forrest Gump, or eating out at Bubba Gump restaurants, or asking me if I’d seen the movie and when I’d reply no I haven’t, they’d gasp and ask why. I’m not a proponent of watching television, or filling your time with meaningless technological gibber-gabber, but quality television was inducted into my list of How To Be A Well Rounded Person when I realized that it’s part of my generation. It’s not my culture, so it isn’t something tobeavoidedatallcosts. Let me make the line between culture and generation very clear:

In America, I was surrounded by the Americans’ culture- or “pop culture”, which are two funny words used to describe the processed food succumbing citizens eat, the couch-potatoing they do, and the mindless chit-chat they indulge in. Ok, it doesn’t all go down like that, but it’s an image that rings with truths about pop culture. Now, my generation’s habits and advancements are a totally different story. As a cohort of technology, the young people of America and more privileged countries would be ignorant to ignore the fact that technology plays a major role in most of the worlds’ daily lives. Making love to technology isn’t my culture, it isn’t my nature, and it isn’t what I’m destined to do just because I’m born in the nineteenth century. It’s an advancement available to further humans’ understanding of emotions and of the world around us. My point is that the movie Forrest Gump is a masterpiece that shouldn’t be ignored as entertainment, or put down because it falls into the category of modern technology. It’s a picture show, a Mona Lisa in 2 million slides. And although the cinematography is impeccable and the movie was very well put together, it isn’t the editing of the film that makes it beautiful- it’s the beautiful piece of life behind all the cameras and costumes and sets put together with such care that captured the essence of life and- I hate to be redundant- the beauty of it.

Sitting there at those linoleum tables littered with red and white checkered paper in cheap plastic baskets holding french fries and surrounded by throngs of sunburnt white people and my parents’ company, I would always long to know the secrets of the restaurant Bubba Gump. But it never told me. My little siblings and I would flip the license plates that read, “Run, Forrest, Run” or “Stop, Forrest” to get the attention of the waiters just to pick fun, and I’d run over those famous phrases in my head, to see if maybe they’d tell me the secrets of their Forrest. In hindsight- I just finished the movie- I’m not quite sure how all those people at the restaurant sat at their tables and talked and talked and ate their greasy shrimp, just like they always do, even when they had witnessed and known the miraculous secrets of Forrest Gump. If it was me at that restaurant, right now, I wouldn’t be able to contain my disappointment, my naive misunderstanding of why humans have become so void of emotion. After watching the movie, I was again impulsively aware of every touch, every sound around me. It’s like how my Pop says he felt when we became vegan: all the flavors he tasted became a thousand times richer, a thousand times more potent- to the point where he can’t handle the overpowering sugar of sweets, and the jump caffeine would give his now naturally spiked body would send him to the moon. I feel like I’m reminded of the incredible sensation it is to be awake. For a while, I had fallen into another rut where I felt how Jenny must’ve felt when she was in the midst of all her stupidity: old, used, impossibly, incurably, old. But Forrest set me right back on my heels where I should be- looking at the world tilted sideways, a blank, starstruck canvas for my creativity to grace, instead of the world tilting over on top of me.

I’m struggling to write a novel that speaks to people in ways they wish they could capture with their own hands. I want them to feel something wonderful, and for them to want to be able to make that beauty too. The things I create I want to inspire others, just like Forrest Gump, cityscape photography, good books, people, chilly mornings at the cold kitchen table, and Frida Kahlo do for me. I want to touch people with my work, and maybe they’ll touch me back. As for you, Forrest Gump, I absolutely dislike crying during movies. With my knees to my chest and my sister and Mum on either side of me, a steady stream of tears ran down my ruddy cheeks. You’re a rite of passage, Forrest Gump, and I’ll always remember the first time I watched you through. That’s a big checkmark off my bucket list.

I actually think it’s comical: I always imagined the first time I saw that movie that I’d be curled up between Mum and Papa on our green corduroy couch, maybe with a bowl of popcorn on my lap and two glasses of wine on the coffee table. The tall glass with the bulbous top and the skinny trunk is Mum’s, and the simple, squat one without the trunk is Pop’s. The wide television is situated on the far wall, next to the upright piano and those industrial-like, hanging picture frames with all my family’s photographs of the olden days. Mum loves photographs, and I suppose I love them too. But no, I was folded up on the red couch with the Lasko fan oscillating behind me and curling wisps of my long, damp hair across the back of my neck. The night is hot, but not stifling. Kira was on my left, on the couch, and Mum on the little perch to my right. We sat together, unified, riveted to the computer screen as we watched Forrest Gump and I began to bounce back into my old skin. Thanks, Forrest. I owe you that million dollars you were promised. Do you take pesos?

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