This is where it all falls apart. This is where the world ends.
No matter how many times I do an edit of The Movie Lovers, no matter who volunteers to read the manuscript, no matter how focused I am, how clear my vision, how determined, somewhere between Longtime Survivor and One Easy Thing, things... just... stop. And there they sit, unmoved and unmoving. An ocean of years passes.
There is a scene in the movie A.I. in which David, a robot boy so human that he even loves, reaches the end of a long and perilous journey. David’s quest to become a real boy, a truly human flesh-and-blood boy, takes him to The End of the World where, at last, he will find what he seeks: the Blue Fairy. But when he reaches The End of the World, things are not as he had envisioned. There is no Blue Fairy, no magic wand, no hope of ever becoming a real boy and having his broken heart healed. Disillusioned, his quest abandoned, David lets go and falls into the sea. There at the bottom, in the center of a children’s park, stands-- miraculous!-- the Blue Fairy: she who is always kind, always loving, always welcoming, and now, always under the ocean of water that has flooded The End of the World, a plot twist of Biblical proportions. But the story isn’t done, and so David is rescued and put into an amphibious craft.
In the darkened theater I watch, breathless, my eyes as wide and hopeful as David’s, as the amphibious craft dives, swims beneath the park entrance sign, and settles at the feet of the bountiful Blue Fairy. Somehow, I think, somehow this is finally going to work. He’s going to be able to finish what he started with such fervor so long ago. And then I see the ferris wheel. I watch it snap, fall, settle... become a cage.
Just yards from the transformation he seeks, David is imprisoned. And there he must wait, ever patient, ever yearning, ever focused upon his heart’s one true desire, a desire that, seemingly, will forever remain out of reach. For years he waits-- and waits and waits-- to be something only another can make him. Human; loved. For this, David sits at the bottom of the sea
until all the sea anemones had shriveled and died.... as the ocean froze and the ice encased the caged amphibicopter and The Blue Fairy, too... a blue ghost in ice.... Eventually he never moved at all, but his eyes always stayed open, staring ahead forever, all through the darkness of each night, and the next day, and the next day. Thus, two-thousand years passed by.
Over the years, those who read the manuscript would tell me, inevitably it seemed, that The Movie Lovers was my story, a story of my own healing. This is not what I had envisioned. Certainly it’s not what I intended when I began the journey. For me, this is Jose’s story, the part of his life’s story that was our friendship, the amazing experience of love that grew out of it. For me, this is a story I am in, but it is not about me. Or is it? Perhaps those readers were onto something. For each time I would start a full edit of the book, each time I finished Longtime Survivor and turned to One Easy Thing, the chapter in which I talk about my family, revealing some of how I came to be the person I am and the toll that being so close to death took on me, something would intervene. A cage would drop, separating my heart’s desire to move forward from my mind’s capacity to bring the story to full completion, and there The Movie Lovers would sit, unmoved and unmoving. These are the years I spent beneath the sea, eyes always open: gazing into the darkness of each night, the blue ghost of The Movie Lovers each day, and the next day, and the next. Thus, two decades have passed since Jose died and I began writing his story. Our story. My story.
A century mark, purported to be The End of the World, has come and gone. Humankind remains. Here in the 21st Century, we live in a social media Never Never Land where we drink from a constant stream of the present. For the generations born during the ‘80s and ‘90s, which was the height of the plague, AIDS is ancient history and The Movie Lovers a period piece, and yet; just as David waits patiently at the feet of the Blue Fairy, the beloved who is forever smiling, forever welcoming, forever awaiting him; this time in history, this story of love, is one I cannot abandon.
And so I leave you here where I stand, poised on the threshold of the next chapter wherein The Movie Lovers stumbles over the edge of the flat earth, falls. It is the place where healing-- or the possibility of healing-- needs to happen. But the truth is, I did not heal. I have not healed. I may wait millennia to be healed. I have time. I will be here when it comes.
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