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“Jules, y’know, honey… this isn’t real. You know what it is? It’s St. Elmo’s Fire. Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them… there was no fire. There wasn’t even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep them going when times got tough, just like you’re making up all of this. We’re all going through this. It’s our time at the edge.”
I was in high school, I think, when I watched St. Elmo’s Fire. Or maybe early college. But somewhere in the range of 15 to 20, because that was the period in which my best high school friends and I met regularly to watch and make fun of movies. And St. Elmo’s Fire, which is a Brat Pack movie about recent college graduates, was perfect for that. Like, why is Demi Moore’s character trying to bury her step mother in a cat costume? The fun that could be made of St. Elmo’s Fire! And that’s what we did. I did. I made fun of the movie and didn’t think of it much again.
But I did this weekend. I just finished reading Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of advice columns originally published for The Rumpus, which is this literary-ish website that I sometimes read. Anyway. I will blog more about the book later. The book is not the point. The point is that the book, and the advice given in it, made me think once more about St. Elmo’s Fire, of all things. And it did so for this reason:
The above quote is said by one incredibly screwed up character to another after the latter lists all of the things that are wrong in her life. All of her problems. And this is the response. And it is so perfect, I think. Because no, Demi Moore’s character, these aren’t problems. These are things that you are clinging to because it makes you feel better, in some strange, painful way.
And that’s what I do. That’s what I do all the time. I was going to detail examples of proof that this is what I do, but instead I will just say that you need to believe me when I say that I am almost 23 and lacking in perspective and that I have been following St. Elmo’s Fire.
But the truth is that my problems aren’t problems. Not in the grand scheme of things. Not even to me.
And none of this means that I don’t get to be sad or mad (or none too glad), because I do, because everyone does. But it does mean that I’m going to get through this. We’re all going to get through this.
This is our time at the edge.
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