Friday, November 20, 2009

Meet Me in St. Louis

Remember reruns? Remember coming home after school and watching reruns of the classics-- Saved by the Bell, The Brady Bunch, Friends, The Wonder Years?

There is something nice and comforting about reruns, I'm coming to realize. It's nice to know what you're getting. No surprises. Just old friends saying lines you've heard before, never missing a beat. We know when Rachel is going to declare her love for Ross. We aren't in shock when Winnie kisses Kevin in that cold barn in the rain for the last time. Of course Jan will make the cheerleading squad, we've seen this one before.

The days of reruns have oddly passed, as I don't watch tv unless its streaming onto my computer, and reruns don't really exist online. Those of you who have Tivo will edit your tv watching to only the essentials, none of that random riff raff. And there isn't a web channel that plays one random episode of The Brady Bunch at a time, now is there? (Is there?! If so, I hope its the Hawaii one.)

However. The past week has brought armloads of reruns into my life-- they entered like huge bouquets of white peonies, bobbing their snowy heads, nodding hello. As I sat down to write a little bloggy post, I realized that I could just display some reruns of old posts. Like this one. Or this. Or this goody. Those are the things I've done.

I've been re-watching, re-reading, and re-living my favorites this week. It's that time of year. I've been going back to all the things that would go into the Sarah Box, if one existed outside of conversation. It's a strange little box filled with Jimmy Stewart films, food memoirs, strands of gold jewelry, and a perfect mix of early 19th century British landscape paintings and contemporary installation work.

I would climb into that box, if I could, and settle there between Eloise and William Turner, Tilda Swinton and Estella Havisham. I'd have dinner with Alfred Hitchcock, tea with Jo March, and swap clothes with Katherine Hepburn. We'd all camp out in that box until morning comes, not daring to peek out at that scary outside world. (Bear with me here.)

Last week my amazing sisters Laura and Emily sent a hug in the form of dvd's to my desk. Julia Child's PBS Special was in the mix (I watched that this morning before work while eating leftover apple crisp and sipping french press coffee- love that Julia.) as was a collection of old song-and-dance musicals from the 1940s. I opened the package to discover Judy Garland's familiar (and bizarrely heart-shaped) face smiling back at me beneath that terrible wig and loud dress and tugged the dvd case to my heart. Meet me in St. Louis is one of my (our) all time favorites. I was so glad to see it again.

It's a odd little film. And truth be told, I rented it a few weeks ago, before La and Em sent the package, with someone who was watching it for the first time. The oddities never occurred to me until I saw it through another's eyes--Those children are morbid! That dancing so saccharine! But I love it. Why? Because it IS a rerun. I'm not seeing it for the first time at 26, shocked by the bizarre costumes, the corny dialogue. It all makes sense because I fell in love with it when I was 10 years old.

Meet Me in St. Louis is the story of a city as told through a family. My friend Sarah Meyer mocks this film for its lack of conflict, but I say the conflict is real. Esther, Agnes, Rose, and Tootie have a palpable love for St. Louis and the thought of leaving absolutely breaks their hearts. The story is based around this love, and I get it. I love a city too. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, the most heartbreaking of all Christmas songs (save for Joni Mitchell's River, perhaps) was written for a city and the heart that was leaving it behind. The love is real and so is the hurt.

And, like most 40s era musicals, this one has a very happy ending. So even while watching hearts break, this audience of one was okay. I knew they would stay in St. Louis-- can't fool me. I knew that Esther would end up with that total bore next door, John Truit, whom she happens to find so charming. I knew that Tootie wouldn't have to dig up her cemetery of dead dolls. That, dear friends, is the best thing about this classic film-- I've seen it before.


La said...

Aw love this post! And love Meet Me it St Louis. Glad you liked your care package. Can't wait to see you on Wednesday! :-)

Meghan Pasicznyk said...

What a perfect post :) Can't wait to see you at the Cookie Porch so soon!

Emily Jayne said...

This post makes me really happy! I love Meet me in St. Louis! Can't wait to watch reruns with you this Thanksgiving.

Gail said...

I think this is my favorite post you have ever written. I love that my girls grew up on corny musicals. The old Christmas movies, particulary the musicals are a must for any well rounded young woman!

Sarah Meyer said...

I just sent this to my family in a email entitled "my favorite sarah butler blog post." I agree wholeheartedly with the post though i would substitute Meet Me in St. Louis for the Ten Commandments :-)