I love the opening scenes in most movies. As a captive viewer, I get to meet the seemingly pretty, smart and very together protagonist and watch her in her every day life. I like to see her morning routine, meet her family, learn about her job and see her happily living her happy life. I want to be her -- waking up with dewy skin, perfectly tousled hair and morning breath fresh enough to kiss the cute guy who lies next to her in a bed that looks like it was barely slept in. I'm envious of the fresh flowers on her kitchen counter and her morning cup of coffee, which she drinks from an oversized mug taken straight out of the pages of the Williams-Sonoma catalog.
I stop for a minute and think about imaginary audience members watching me in the movie of my life. They get to see me wake up with pillow marks on my face, half a ponytail hanging from my head in a bed with sheets hanging off to one side and pillows thrown on the floor below. Lucky them watching me unload the dishwasher while yelling at my kids to come downstairs for breakfast as I make a cup of coffee in the one clean but still chipped mug I find -- the really old one that has my husband's alma mater half on it and half scratched off of it.
Back to the real movie: It's now about a half hour into it, and I'm starting to get upset for our protagonist. Conflict is unfolding and at an alarming rate. I learn that my girl just got fired from her dream job and that cute guy who lay in her bed has a secret life with a whole other family. It just goes downhill from there. Her best friend is really a psychotic stalker, and she's developing a mysterious deadly rash that will soon spread throughout the whole town.
I can't take it. It's too much. I want to go back to happy, wake up fresh dewy morning perfect girl in her perfect kitchen with her perfect life.
Please moviemakers, make it stop. It's too sad. It's too much. I want the happy ending. When's the happy ending coming?
I know. I'm too invested in my protagonist. What is wrong with me? Okay, maybe I have some issues with conflict, with watching bad things happen to other people and even characters. I think it's more about imagining these bad things happening to me or to the people that I love.
I go back to thinking about my life the movie. My day is moving along at its normal pace. I manage to make the unruly beds in my house, get all the now clean dishes and mugs back in their rightful places. My kids make it out the door to school with lunches that should never be seen on any movie screen -- ever. I read an informative and also cute text from my husband (who was out the door way before I was awake to give him a kiss -- fresh breath or not) and I sit down at my desk to get to work.
My hair is now in a full ponytail, the pillow marks have faded from my face, and I'm on my second cup of coffee in the chipped mug. I notice the muffin crumbs on my keyboard as I take a quick break from writing my latest article to check email. I read a funny and also newsy email from one of my close friends, a non-psychotic stalker. Back to work on the article. I slip off my Uggs while sitting cross-legged at my desk -- pen now placed up in my ponytail.
The people watching my movie must be sound asleep by now in their reclining theater seats. Or perhaps they left the theater and demanded their money back? I wouldn't blame that. They probably couldn't handle that close up on my un-plucked eyebrows and gray roots that need to be touched up about two weeks ago.
But, I remind myself, at least I don't have to deal with strange deadly rashes, secret lives of loved ones and a giant office mutiny. I wonder how my protagonist can deal with all of this, and all the while with those amazing highlights and what appears to be a very good bra underneath her adorable and just a little bit sexy tank top. I look down at my waffle shirt and notice a splash of coffee on the sleeve. I'm not wearing a good bra today.
Okay here's what I figured out from directing my life the movie in my head. This movie would be really, really boring. But you know what? Boring is okay. Boring is actually good. I'll take boring.
Of course I have conflict and sadness and drama to deal with but it's not anything anyone would spend any amount of money to see. My life -- real life does not go from perfection in Act 1, tragedy in Act 2 and right back to perfection in Act 3. It's an ongoing series of acts; some happy, some sad, some mind numbingly boring and some fun ones too. Within all of these acts are countless scenes, some beyond forgettable and some that I will never forget.
So for now, I will continue to watch these scenes in my own mind's eye even as I live them, all the while hoping for a happy ending.