When my dear old friend Benton, a filmmaker and writer, saw Lost in Translation, he said Charlotte, played by the then-unknown Scarlett Johansson, reminded him of me. Naturally, I was curious and went to see the movie. I wasn't sure whether I was flattered or...well, flattered, when it opened with the lovely Ms. Johansson prancing in her underpants.
I understood further when this exchange was delivered between Charlotte and Bob, played by Bill Murray:
I'm stuck. Does it get easier.
No, yes, it does...
Yeah? But look at you.
Thanks. It does, the more you know
who you are... you don't care about
things the same way...
I just don't know what I'm supposed
to be. I thought maybe I wanted to
be a writer... but I hate what I
write, and I tried taking pictures,
but John's so good at that, and mine
are so mediocre... and every girl
goes through a photography phase,
like horses, you know dumb pictures
of your feet...
That's the part that (I think) made Benton think of me. The "taking pictures of your feet" part. Old friends, like notebooks (click) and art projects your mom framed (see below), will never let you forget all those people you used to be...those phases when you took pictures of your feet. Which is exactly what I was doing at 16, probably aching for Spring Break with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Pictured below, is the photo of my feet, remembered by Benton, framed by my mom (and hanging in her bathroom in St. Louis), with accompanying poem winding around below it.
Barefoot (Or my premature Peter Pan Syndrome...)
God, what I wouldn't give to be barefoot again.
To get out of this dungeon, this wintry den-
I want to pass through doorways without noticing.
To open the window with no cold surprise
All that I want is some sun in my eyes.
Just to look down and see ten tanned toes
Not big scary boots to keep out the snows.
(Does anyone sanity's froze? Am I the only one who feels strange in these clothes?)
If I just make this one long grey day end.
So I could go back to being barefoot again.
--Jenni Avins, 16
I'm still a bit of a navel-gazer. (Duh.) But aren't we all really? And isn't marking a moment what old friends, photos of your feet and poetry is all about? Even Roger Cohen dug out his diary from the '70s and shared a poem (click) with the readers of The New York Times yesterday.
At it's worst, New York City can feel like total chaos. At it's best, poetry in motion. Sometimes I feel a bit lost in the translation myself. But I've got my own Bobs to help me find synchronicity in the city, and my Bentons (and bathroom walls in St. Louis) to remind me this is no new phenomenon. We've been here before, kid.
Here's a shot of me and Maizie, just a week or two ago, barefoot on the beach.
You'll figure it out. I'm not worried
about you. Keep writing.
about you. Keep writing.