When I was 17 and a senior in high school I decided to do this play called The Music Man. I sang in Glee Club and chorale and I didn't want to audition because I was terrified to solo, but Sister Jeanette, the director, told me I could just read lines. She said, "Kristen, be as funny as I know you are." I was cast as the mayor's Balzac-busting wife, Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn, the least sexy role in the history of unsexy roles, but a funny one, so it felt like a big victory. I got to make over-the-top ridiculous choices, sing off-key, and just generally play the anti-ingénue at every turn. As I've mentioned, I went to an all-girls' high school, so we'd borrow boys from the area all-boys' schools for the male roles. Rehearsals were already underway when Brian got cast in the barbershop quartet. I'd had a distant crush on him for years but when he strode in with his patchworked jeans and his rainbow guitar strap and his ultra-kinetic eyebrows it was game over. It's a very particular thing, to fall in love in a theater, high school or not, over weeks and months of rehearsals. Theater people will know what I'm saying. Ours was not a straight and narrow path, as most love cannot be--we went to different colleges and did our best to stay together, but we met and loved other people, and we continued to love each other, and we fought our way through so many strange lands. I can't write it all, one day I will write it all. The thing that's nice about being from the same place, calling the same place home, is that we have it wherever we go. I was home in Philly and I was home in Georgia and I'm home in Alabama. Loving is a home, being loved is a home. We started from the catacombs of Merion Mercy and now we're here.
There is so much I loved about this movie: the performances, the writing, the subject matter, the way it was shot, the colors, the mood, the structure--and of course, the music. Obviously music can lend much to a film, but often, it's this ancillary thing, for better or for worse. It's backdrop, or filler, or something annoyingly anthemic meant to drive home that we're interfacing with life in the 20s or the 80s or whenever. In Moonlight, the music feels spiritually connected to the scenes, the conflicts, the characters themselves. In the moments when the emotional intensity renders a character speechless, the music becomes everything they cannot say. Jidenna's "Classic Man" plays while Chiron is driving alone to Miami, and resumes later, when he starts the car to give Kevin a ride home. The volume is low when Kevin teases Chiron about his lifestyle, about having gotten hard, and rather than respond or engage, Chiron turns up the volume, and "Classic Man" fills the car and the scene, a playful answer to Kevin's questions and bemusement. Earlier, in the restaurant, Kevin plays Barbara Lewis's "Hello Stranger" on the jukebox, the song played by a patron, according to Kevin, that made him think to call Chiron after so many years had passed. So the song about a stranger, selected by a stranger, is also the song that electrifies the space between two men whose love has estranged them, has carried them to the furthest reaches from each other and brought them all the way back. The song does heavy lifting without ever feeling heavy-handed; the moments of them listening to it and looking at one another from across the room are achingly beautiful. We feel every difficult feeling that exists between them while listening to the sweetest, simplest "shoo-bop shoo-bop" refrain.
On Wednesday I had two eye appointments; the first was series of tests ("neuroophthalmic evaluation," if you want to be an asshole) to determine if/how my vision would stand to improve if the cataract in my left eye were removed. When I got there and checked in via this airline-esque kiosk, I was told that the doctor I was supposed to see was "out of commission." Both the receptionist and the other doctor, the one I eventually did see who never introduced himself, said "out of commission" in the same tone, like they were hooking their collar with their index finger and pulling it away from their neck, that stagey gesture. The doctor who didn't introduce himself entered the room with two other people who didn't introduce themselves and started talking about how they almost never did this test anymore.
Then he pulled up a black suitcase-type thing--something that looked like it held a camera from the 1920s--and literally blew the dust off of it. The doctor and a guy wearing scrubs who seemed like some kind of tech then proceeded to take the apparatus out and fuss with the wiring, and turn it over, and connect it to the main apparatus--the one you usually look through when you get a regular vision check-up--and grumble about how the fuse might've been shorted, and tell me again that they almost never did this test anymore, and all the while I'm wondering what they're going to do to me, and if they're going to give me their names. Eventually the thing worked, and I looked at a series of lines, and then a series of lights and swimmy dots, and the doctor was very impressed and said my vision would be greatly improved with the surgery.
I have "lattice degeneration" in my left eye, which makes me think of pie, so there is some risk to lasering anything off of it, and I also learned, at the appointment following this one with my regular ophthalmologist, that I have a cataract on my right eye, too, but she said we didn't need to worry about it right now. My regular ophthalmologist loves to tell me how old my eyes are. "You've got the eyes of an 85-year-old!" she gleefully exclaims. "Anyone else in your family have prematurely old eyes?" No, I tell her. I've been legally blind in my left eye for most of my life. I've fielded looks of confusion and distress about my eyes since I was a kid, from doctors who apparently like their young eyes young and their old eyes old. One time I read a study--small sample, so nothing we can claim as "fact"--about how first generation Americans seem predisposed to poor (or poorer than their genetics might suggest) vision, and also acne. I used to struggle with acne, too. Anyway. I'm getting the surgery, in April.