It’s been a hella busy July at our house. The girl child went to camp. I worked a lot. Then I went to NYC for a few days. Then there were various appointments to get to and now there’s “back to school” talk in the air already and I’m starting to get that panicky “What did I forget?” feeling just about every day (aside from my normal, “Where are my keys? Have you seen my phone? Augghh! I need to get gas!).
My yard is not anywhere near as pretty or well-groomed as I would like it to be, and for three summers now I have missed the garden I once had with squash and peppers and herbs and eggplants all growing so beautifully. Thank goodness for the retired cop who at least keeps the grass mowed for a modest fee once a week. His retirement side hustle is basically my salvation.
My room at home has been half-painted for a month. Major props to Neana for rallying the paint can and brushes while I was away and finishing the job.
My house is neat–but it ain’t clean, y’all. Not by a long shot.
And I often–often–feel as if I am letting those around me down…because the juggling act of a busy life sometimes means you drop a ball. And I despise dropping balls…the grace I extend to others in this area is not mine to receive (apparently).
Meanwhile, you know, our country is still in utter chaos and people are still mean and snarky and cruel, and life is scary and sometimes awful things happen and lives are broken and things are hard and money is tight and relationships suffer and hate seems to rage and selfish sometimes wins.
And so yesterday, a rainy and muggy Sunday, me already tired from a full morning’s work, was the perfect day for a movie. Specifically one the Curly Girl and some of our favorites had been DYING to see: Ant Man and the Wasp, Marvel’s much-anticipated sequel to Ant Man (which was also a big hit in our house). All five of us watching together loved it, and anytime a movie appeals equally to ages 8-46, you can pretty much call it winning.
It was a welcome break from the chaos. The weighty things. The every day rat race of trying to balance work and home and everything in between. We got to sit. And breathe. And just be…while a wonderful story unfolded in front of us.
If you don’t do “superhero movies,” it’s easy to mark them off as merely child’s play, shallow fantasy, or pure fluff. And all I can say about this is to each their own, but you’re missing out on some incredible storytelling. And the Ant Man story is no exception. I mean, sure, he has this super cool suit that means he gets to minimize to ant size and get just about anywhere to solve just about any issue and destroy just about any force of evil. That’s badass enough. But also? He’s a dad. A single one at that. Who has been unfairly treated by the “justice” system. And who wants nothing more than to be with his beautiful little girl and maybe have a second chance at love and life.
Ant Man (Paul Rudd plays him ladies–need I say more?) is so gorgeously complicated on the one hand, and yet so completely simple on the other in his desire to be a good friend, make a decent living, be the best father he can be, and risk the beauty of falling in love again. And all I could think as the scenes flashed before me was, “This is life. In all its struggle and all its charm and all its shattered dreams and all its hope…this is life. And this man…he could be any of us, just trying desperately to do our best.”
And I immediately breathed a prayer of thanks for the normalcy of the moment. The realness of being in a normal theater on a normal day with people I care about so much and with a reminder of all that is good about this life playing out on the giant screen in front of me.
There’s a scene toward the end where a character I spent the first 3/4 of the movie hating suddenly becomes so human…so real in her pain and anger…it’s impossible to hate her when you realize that she’s hurting so deeply, and is so afraid. She tries to run off alone, to escape the pain she’s caused others…and her friend won’t let her. “I will not leave you,” he says.
I. Will. Not. Leave. You.
Y’all–if you have one person…even just one…in your life who will say this to you, who will promise to never leave you, no matter how much you may hate yourself, no matter what awful things you may have done, no matter how unworthy you feel…if you’ve got someone who will say that to you…hold on to that person. With everything you’ve got.
Because this is what matters. Above everything else. And especially over and against the things that threaten to tear us apart. What matters is holding hands and sticking together. What matters is understanding that we belong to each other and that we are so much stronger together, when we stand in each other’s corners, and sit with each other’s pain, and help each other move forward into whatever is next. What matters is not facing it all alone.
Movies like Ant Man use fantasy to help us understand what is real. Throwing on a high-tech suit that’ll give you super powers? Probably fantasy. But being your daughter’s hero? Helping family find each other again? Opening your heart to the possibility of love? Rebuilding after you’ve lost everything you once dreamed of? That’s real. That’s completely and absolutely real.
And, somehow, that gives me some hope.