Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dead Poets

I have this memory of my brother Grant and I growing up on the farm in Colton when there was nothing to do in the summer but watch the slow descent of the sun across the tall fields of golden grass and wait in the heat for darkness to come so we could camp out on the deck and watch the stars explode in our faraway eyes. On Fridays, we used to drive the old rickety pick-up down Beavercreek Road to the Town Center to sit in the air-conditioned theaters and watch movies. Once a week, just something to break up the monotony of our Oregon lives slowly slipping away. I don't recall many of those nights, stopping at Burgerville for cold shakes or racing up 10 o'clock hill with the lights off under a glowing moon, I don't particularly remember any of the movies we saw either except for one: Good Morning, Vietnam. Watching Robin Williams holler and scream into the microphone made us laugh harder than we'd ever laughed before. I think what made it worse was that we were both trying not to laugh, cool high-school kids in the town without their parents, but that movie made our guts burst. I'd never laughed harder at anything. I thought the theater ushers were going to kick us out, but they were in stitches too. Every person in the theater was doubled-over in the aisles. When I could finally breathe though, one thing came into focus. Here was a guy, standing in a classroom, speaking to people that would never and could never truly understand him. Try as he might, pour all of his love and passion out, it was a total lost cause. To my surprise, the scene at the end when Airman Cronauer is playing baseball with his students, smiling and waving them home in the soft summer light, I found myself bawling. In between all that pain and joy and laughter and sorrow, there was life.  It was a fun ride home, Grant and I trying to recite the lines back hopelessly, just laughing with the windows down and that sweet Oregon night air cooling our skin. I had no idea what my life would be then. I just knew I wanted it all.

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