January 7, 2012

I Am Right Here

I saw E.T. for the first time when I was eight. Like most things from my childhood, my exact age had to be verified by a quick IMDB search, one that reveled the film was released in 1982,  some simple math further tells us I was eight. Strange, felt younger.

In any case, the film, no matter when I first saw it was a milestone in my young life. Tonight, I watched it with my daughter Kaia. I wasn't sure if she was ready- it can be a bit intense- but she loved it. She was in a bit of a mood, so she acted silly and nervous for the first few minutes, but once we settled in, she was entranced.

She asked great questions:

"Daddy why are the scientists trying to stop Elliot if he is doing the right thing?"
"Is there anyway we can connect with other people and feel their feelings?"

I looked over at her as we watched the famous bike scene and found her jaw agape. We held hands. I nearly cried.

Sure as an adult, it is a bit melodramatic and over the top, with the John Williams score and all, but in that moment as the bike ascended, I was transported back in time. The two of us were transfixed by the power of imagination and the wonder of film.

I was worried how she would handle the sickness and confiscation of the house scenes. I remember those scenes as very dramatic, but she did fine.

"Are you okay?" I asked as E.T. lay pale and dying. She had tears in her eyes. She nodded, but wasn't sure.
"It's okay to let movies make us feel sad sometimes. Reminds us that we have feelings."
"I feel how I felt when that little blind kitten died." She said. Long Pause.
"But I am okay. I just hope he feels better soon. I know why Elliott is so upset. I can feel what he is feeling." She smiles. My heart breaks.

I started to think about all the films she has seen so far in her young life, so many animated sagas, but none of them have ever inspired such emotional connections. Yes, she is older now and more attuned to her emotions, but I can't think of a single Shrek movie that can fill a child with such emotions. No computer animated Toy Story film has ever grabbed her so intensely.

We both cried again as Elliott and E.T. said good bye. This time smiling and hugging.

"See I told you he would make it home."
"Yeah, but they won't be together. That is so sad and happy at the same time."
"I know. How does that feel?"
" I don't know."
"Me neither Kaia, but that is okay. We can just smile, cry and hug each other till we figure it out." 

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