Substitute People

I just finished watching Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown for the first time.

. . .

The music is fantastic.

. . .

But that was a given.

. . .

. . .

Critics gave this one a hard time, I remember. And yeah, it’s no Vanilla Sky, but . . .

It stirs up all kinds of shit in me. I think when you grow up like I did, in such a large close-knit family, you don’t realise how special that is, to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself. Or maybe you take it for granted, don’t appreciate it as much as it deserves. Because it’s truly a miracle.

On the occasion of my grandfather’s funeral, my Calgarian cousin surprised everyone when he walked into the church on the night of the wake. His huge positive energy helped carry more than just me through those difficult couple of days. He fed on the energy of family and projected it back on us, mentioned it a few times, how great it was to be in a hall filled with family. And at the time, yeah, I kinda got that, understood he grew up different than me, without all these people. But looking around a hall at a funeral, wedding, anniversary, or any of the many occasions we gather, it doesn’t take real long to lock eyes with someone you’d rather not. Yeah, we’re family, but we’re certainly not all friends. And I remember thinking that at the time, man, if you only knew . . . Because you know, nobody ever sees him, everybody wants to know him, so they’re all putting their best face forward, right? But here’s the thing I was overlooking, when I’m rolling my eyes and thinking this I can easily share looks with a couple dozen people thinking the same thing. My family. The ones who’ve always been there and always will. The ones I truly care about and who truly care about me. I’ve got dozens of them, on both sides. And I guess I’ve never really consciously thought about it, how rare that is, to have friendships with so many cousins, aunts and uncles.

But subconsciously it’s always been there. I remember Stacy asking me one time how come I introduced her as my cousin. She seemed a little put out by it actually, upset that I didn’t think of her as a friend first. And at the time I didn’t really know what to tell her, didn’t really see anything wrong with it but tried to make a conscious effort to introduce her differently. I understand now. It’s my view of family. I’ve always been a little bit of a loner, hanging with one crowd for a few months and then moving on to another. I’ve maintained very few friendships, most in recent years. Maybe that’s the way it is for everyone, I don’t know, but a lot of friends have come and gone (or I’ve come and gone), but family is a constant. I have family I only see once or twice a year, and others like my cousin from out west that I hadn’t seen since the year we were graduating high school, but when we get together it’s like we’ve never been apart. There’s a bond, a connection. It’s very real, very strong, and awe-inspiringly powerful. I guess for me the saying about blood being thicker than water rings true. So declaring Stacy as my cousin, for me, meant that she was more than a friend. She’s blood.

And I realised all of this when Orlando Bloom is overwhelmed in his father’s family kitchen in Kentucky.

And when he touches his father’s hands, I saw my father’s hands and cried.

And Kirsten Dunst says she’s a substitute person, that they’re both substitute people. And it clicks with me, being the substitute person. And for the umpteenth time I want to know how the fuck Cameron Crowe knows me so well when we’ve never met.

I don’t care what the critics said. I’m watching it again.

Mood: all over the place
Drinking: Turning Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon
Listening To: Promise Me This, Dawson’s Creek Soundtrack
Hair: smells like celine

3 thoughts on “Substitute People

Add yours

  1. So true, so true! And the thing is, for me anyway, you do take it for granted until we gather for something as significant as a funeral….There are times I could kick myself for not being more a part of the bigger picture known as the Coughlan family, but sometimes it can be so overwhelming to be a part of something so huge! I love my family, but there are only a few select people I truly care to associate with….and you know who you are!


  2. I just watched this on Saturday…cried my freakin eyes out. was also struck by the kitchen scene…so real!

    Now I get the cousin/friend thing. thanks.


  3. cameron is genius. he gets it. he makes me see things that always were but I never knew. I love that about him. It’s good to think about these things I think.


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