It’s snowing here in Michigan. There’s been two inches over night and it’s still falling. Last night, we went to the candlelight service at the First United Methodist Church. I have no idea what all these denominations mean but I enjoyed the service, which was like a full-on production with a beautiful choir, bell-ringers, carols, candles and a fine sermon on the nature of being saved.
The pastor used a line from Titanic to illustrate his point. It was the line where Rose, in her twilight years, says of Jack Dawson, “He saved me, in every way that a person can be saved.” For me, that film–and perhaps that line in particular–have made me reflect every time I’ve enountered it. So often, I’ve felt myself turning a corner, rediscovering what’s important and what’s not after watching it. It’s about the nature of who we are and what are we doing with our lives. What makes life important, worth living?
This year, so much. So much has happened. The trip to California, driving down Highway One at the end of February, staying at Deetjen’s in Big Sur. Seeing the mist roll in from the sea leaving trees in stark relief against this silent backdrop from an many-windowed art gallery up on the cliffs. We drove to the soundtrack of James Bond, watching the sea from the rocky shores of Monterey, walking on the sandy shores of Santa Monica, seeing elephant seals basking on the sand, connecting with friends in CA and sitting in the sun listening to drums at Hermosa Beach while the world passed by.
In June and July, there was our trip to Scotland. We drove down to Kent to see Mum first. Then we were off on our pre-marital honeymoon. Narrow winding roads with passing places through the farms and along the shoreline of Kintyre. Our cottage by the seaside. A view of Arran, re-christened Mordor because of its appearance rising out of the fog on our first day. The Proclaimers live at The Pavilion on the Isle of Bute and discovering Craig and Charlie were staying at our hotel. Ah, the Proclaimers. Music that I’ve found makes me very happy. They’re playing now while Laura fries bacon and sausages for breakfast.
Two visits to Toronto thanks to America’s strange immigration laws. Seeing Niagara Falls that first time in mid May. My first baseball game, the Bluejays playing Texas in the August sunshine at The Skydome, fast-pitching, easy-going, beer-in-hand spectator sport. Two visits to Ann Arbor in the Spring before that. The Ann Arbor Film Festival and seeing Fate & Fortune projected on a big screen with an audience who’d chosen to be there. Winning a scriptwriting prize and having a work performed.
Quitting my job and selling my house were big steps. In some ways, they actually felt bigger than moving the USA. I’ve thought more than once that I should have left the BBC sooner, probably after the first six months. But I didn’t and what can you do? You can’t go back. I keep going forwards. Finishing The Car and having the screenings at Soho House was yet another step in the right direction.
Living with Pete for a month was fun. And kind of a re-birthing process. Sorting out the accumulation of a lifetime. Several visits to the dump, charity shops, car boot sales. Giving away some things to people who I thought would like them and could use them. So much Stuff. Purging. Whittling everything down to about a third of what I had built up and arranging for that to be shipped to the USA. Now it sits on the dockside in New York where it’s been for nearly a month waiting for the US authorities to get their act together.
Happy days hanging out with Mike and Julie, the evening of cocktails, the carboot sale, their wedding in May. That was a great day. So many others. My friends in the UK. Introducing them all to Laura and Laura to them. Sitting out in the garden at the White Hart Tap. Getting free drinks at the Lower Red one evening during their annual beer festival. Filmstock festival in Luton and meeting Martin Ayres again having got in to the opening film on a free ticket. Meeting up with Mike Wright later in the year for a few beers. Many many good meetings, happy times.
Then driving up to Morecambe to see my sister and my mum. Seeing mum for the last time, as it turned out. Sad. Mum so frail. Finding out now that she knew she was dying, didn’t have long to live and her not telling us. So brave. Such a kind dear mother, a kind dear person. Jaffa driving me to the airport on October 31st. Laura meeting me dressed as Trinity. A dream within a dream. Halloween. Walking around Ann Arbor in fancy dress, sitting out at the Diag in the centre of campus.
November and December. Meeting with Geoff Glover’s cameraman friend at Stratton Camera in Farmington Hills. Robin Browne. Such a friendly, nice man. Very down to earth. Then the driving test, the student films, the Michigan Theatre and shooting American Short Film on DV. More lessons learned. Mum’s passing away in the middle of all that. The service of remembrance for her. Quiet. Peaceful.
And now it’s Christmas. There was more, much more. Theatre, cinema, music. And there were friends, good friends. And my family. And today there is Laura. Keith and Laura, warm and snug as the snow falls gently outside. A lone squirrel ventures out to forage then vanishes again. Peace. Gentleness.
I wish you all a gentle, peaceful Christmas with the ones you love and happy memories. Memories of a year well lived, lived to the full. That was the gift Jack Dawson gave to Rose and I can wish to give no other.