I went to a gathering of friends tonight at Mission Bay, at a spot where we meet together once or twice a year to have a bonfire, snacks and to enjoy the bay, cool breeze and small boats going past. All of these friends have adult-age children, and some with children of their own. We reminisce, chat about our children as they come and go, work through the challenges of work, relationships, school, family, illness and financial difficulties. I remember many of these kids in their preteen and teen years. Married? A second child on the way? Where does the time go?
Last week I was watching some brief clips of home movies, from fifteen years ago, that we recently found and had digitized. I am marveling at the laughter and clowning innocence of these children. Obsessively practicing moves on skateboards. Youths competing in a soapbox derby. Recognizing the now adults as onetime participants in my wedding or guests at the reception; I can chuckle thinking their parents’ hair may have been a little darker and thicker at the time, and their steps a bit more spry in those pre-teen years. I too, feel the same marching of time which blanched my present appearance.
I started thinking of the “Coming-of-age” movies that are popular in every generation. A few come to mind that were popular with our children ten years ago, for our younger friends twenty years and thirty years ago, and my own transition time forty years ago.
Forty years ago, I went on a date to see Grease. Musicals were generally what my family considered a family outing when I was a kid, when I actually wanted to see the latest Sean Connery Bond film. But the ability to enjoy a musical with my spouse, whether Grease, Wicked, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or Annie – is due probably to this early training.
Thirty years ago, Dead Poets Society (1989), reminded us that youth is fleeting. That the teachers and professors I was influenced by since high school, helped to shape who we become in our life.
Twenty-four years ago, Forrest Gump (1994), was, for both a memory of coming of age during the Sixties -and though I was a child in the Sixties, I remember hippies, protests, the news on Vietnam, and serving in the Navy with Vietnam veterans. The movie told great stories weaved in episodes from American history where Forrest Gump kept being swept up in the middle. It was a brilliant performance by Tom Hanks, with numerous lines from the film entering the American lexicon.
In 2010, the movie Easy A was – and to some extent still resonates with my kids and their mother. Popularity in high school was, and is still a powerful motivator for kid’s behavior. Emma Stone’s portrayal of a kid using rumors of promiscuity to advance her social standing in the school among her peers was the first time I recall coming of age films presenting gender and sexual identity issues as a coming of age film for teens. Even though presented in comedic terms, I cannot help but think that these films signaled that “Coming of Age” was so much more complicated in the new Millennium than ever before.
And with my new grandchild, what will I be enjoying with him in his teen years, and what stories will I be telling him about my growing up – when he comes to visit that won’t sound like I am an old fossil from a prehistoric or quaint period of history?