My day yesterday? Yoga at 9, personal training (kill me) at noon. A sweaty walk downtown made no more bearable by the homeless man who sauntered up to me and started to sing and dance while I was on the phone with my grandmother. A surprise Twitter-follower stalk at a coffee shop near my apartment. (His reaction: "Why else would you post your location if you didn't want to be found?" Touché!) A quick visit — and half an Oberon — with a bartender friend down the street; a white port cocktail, with sparkling soda and fresh berries, at a favorite Bucktown haunt. By the way? I drink alone; I dine alone; I see movies alone. Especially after my solitary year and a half in Manhattan, I'll do anything by myself and, as long as I don't dwell on it too much, still love my life. Try it. Being alone and feeling pathetic is so mid-'90s.
All yesterday's errands and short run-ins preceded the main event: drinks, dinner and a movie with the man I will now offensively refer to as my Gay Boyfriend. We met last year, just before my 25th birthday and the weirdest summer ever, on the bus. After seeing each other on the same excruciating commute for months.Now, we terrorize our fellow travelers, laughing at clueless suburban Cubs fans and singing impromptu arias about the CTA. We saw Julie & Julia. Which, I guess, is why I'm writing this in the first place. Only took me 400 words to get to it…I am going to need the best editor ever when I finally write this book. Now accepting applications. I went in knowing I would want to kidnap Meryl Streep and keep her forever, even more than before; short snippets of her as Julia Child — all hoot and height and foodlust — had me sold on the movie. When I was in high school, my choir director used to imitate Child's voice when he was working us on vowel shapes. Myyyyy name is Juuuuuuulia Chiaahhhhhhhld. Iiiiii sing with rouuuuuund souuuuuuunds. I knew I'd love it even before I even found out that the other half of the movie was about a girl in New York who kept a year-long blog. About preparing everything in Julia Child's first cookbook. In the end (spoiler alert?), she gets a book deal — and, you know, a movie made about her — but not until after she becomes self-absorbed and obsessed with her "readers", and nearly loses her husband. Who was, himself, not without flaws. But still. The movie touched on my biggest dreams. Getting seized by that feeling of purpose. Becoming known. Getting published. Eating all the time. Discovering contentment is possible despite several borderline neuroses and a dead-end job, despite living in a terrible apartment over a pizzeria in Queens. That kind of thing. But it hit on some of my biggest fears, too. Namely: losing the feeling of purpose after experiencing it once, alienating the people I love in pursuit of a goal, working myself into a frenzy only to get "nothing" from it in the end. Gaining weight. My mother reading my blog and hanging on its every word. That kind of thing. It wasn't one of those "make you think" movies, but the movie really made me think. The idea of finishing something you've started, no matter how long it takes and no matter how small the payoff could be, has stuck with me. My inspiration is re-re-renewed. I will write this book of mine. I don't have the nicely wrapped, cute-idea-and-menacing-deadline package working for me, but I've already lived my story. And a lot of it is already written down. In some form, it's all there. Now it's just a matter of readying it for public consumption. And changing the names. (Good lord. I've made that mistake once.) And convincing someone to set it on paper in a nice typeface. And picking a title. Oh, look. There's the cart, all ready to go before the horses have even left the stable.
As the credits rolled, I turned to Gay Boyfriend and said, "Wow. That was magical." I don't understand why people would pay money to see people orphaned or dismembered when they could stand up, stretch and leave the theatre thinking better of the world than when they sat down. Julie & Julia was a wonderfully sweet movie with all my favorite elements: food, romance and devotion, the hanging-in-balance of Hollywood happy ending and real life just working out, in the way that it so often does. At least…I believe it does.