Don’t Look Back In Anger

There’s a beautiful and bittersweet moment that exists when the credits roll. The lights of the cinema begin pulling everyone collectively back from their own journey, back to the confusing and stormy present. One by one, the audience members stand and slowly depart the Cinegogue, quickly reverting back to regularly scheduled programming.

There’s an undeniable melancholia that comes from leaving a movie theatre, stepping over crumpled popcorn, ticket stubs, and melting ice. It’s easy to forget the notion that allowed us to escape into the wild yonder and surf across a silver lake in the first place. 

It’s the end of a journey, where the sentimental ingredients were given to all present, and became a wild mixture of different results. 

I love that feeling. 

I’m guessing it’s this bittersweetness that keeps the taste from getting too rich to overdose on. I cannot fully articulate what the feeling does to me, but after the dim lights are ignited, there’s a special kind of high that is briefly tangible. Manifested magic that threads itself through the brain stem.

The closest comparison I can muster is waking up from a vivid dream in a euphoric daze, and the rare times of being able to recount the false memory entirely. To hold it and not let it be lost to sweet nothings and reality. 

If a movie has made its presence felt, there’s a good chance you’ll revisit it again, and again, and once more for good measure. This will often occur at different points in your life and for different reasons. It’ll never carry the same virginal feeling as the first time. Then again, no worthy thing ever strikes twice in quite the same way. But the reason remains and evolves.

When I came back to Australia in the Spring of 2018 I was 56kgs. I had an unkept and uneven beard. I had virtually none of the same clothes I had departed with. My stomach still yearning for another Creatini feast with my guardian family. My lungs were still coated with the sweet cigarillo scent of El Guateque in a sunflower field. 

My bag was stuffed with undeclared coffee beans from a revival in Brandizzo, an Amber Leaf tobacco tin gifted by a prophet, as well as a nondescript folder filled with fading ticket stubs, trinkets, and ornaments to remember. 

My pockets were lined with foreign currencies, a slightly heavier passport, and a stained-leather notebook filled with Spanish and Italian survival phrases. 

I believed it was all over. That I had retreated. That there was nothing left to gain. 

Looking back at this dreary simplified sonnet of a man, I cannot help but loathe and wince at his self-pity. The thoughts that were running through that simpler mind as he passed through to the arrivals gate were cringeworthy, debilitatingly overblown, hilariously emotional, and ridiculously dramatised – and very much irreplaceable.  

While processing loss is different for everyone, I feel I had a bit more of a dramatic edge to it all, believing that the blade had cut a little deeper than my compatriots and fellow bards – surely none felt the same way. No one had felt the serene inevitability that comes from an unexpected journey across a continent – with little more direction than the welcoming embrace of kind-hearted saints and sinners.

It is a journey that is simply too good to be planned. I experienced a third act that allowed me to be in the company of true kings and queens. I had stared down the double barrel and felt an acceleration into the unknown that could never be replicated. 

It was authentic for a moment there, wasn’t it. 

The end of a story, sealed with punctuation.

That scraggly skinny bastard waltzed through customs and felt that combination of bittersweet euphoria that can only be felt if you watched the movie with his set of eyes. It’s too simple to look back with perfect hindsight and see the whole game laid out. Knowing how it all ends and thinking there is utility in cringing at the former. For him, this unknowable sensation is who he is. For a brief moment, it was everything.

Like it or not, we’re the product of our past. An unholy combination of all those idiotic and embarrassing memories, thoughts, actions, and states that have pushed our flailing body ever closer to the inevitable edge. Pressing your shoes into the dirt and screaming like an 8-ball banshee will not delay the inevitable, no more than it can change yesterday’s weather. These overblown moments show that there is a spark to be found in the cringes of it all.

I’m sure there’s a very good reason that we choose to experience and re-experience comforting and familiar stories with a new outlook. It’s one of the few guarantees of keeping life alive. Looking back and experiencing the stories we love in a new light and chasing that inevitable high like that of the cinema lights should not be looked at with a sense of empty and useless anger.  

Looking at how I am right now writing this, atop an unstable high horse at the 56kg shadow who mourns the end of his story. I can only hope there is a taller horse standing right behind me, a rider on top looking down as I write this… 

….with bittersweet self-awareness.