When You Can’t Sleep In The Middle of an Earthquake and Heat Wave, Watch “The Meyerowitz Stories”
The steaminess of the hours and a stuffy nose from chronic allergies that are thriving under the cracks of the dry air — is not an ideal combo for a good night’s sleep.
I fooled myself into believing that I could be a limp candidate for dreamland — but after being jolted back to life when envisioning what dying alone could really be like — the darkness of confusion forced me back on the couch.
The earthquake had passed and as always I felt nothing. The warmness of my breath kept me alert — and I reached for the remote — I knew falling asleep would have to wait.
I ended up watching The Meyerowitz Stories and all my feelings about being a reluctant grown up — assembled for a cool down.
The film is another win for Netflix — and it centers around Harold Meyerowitz,(Dustin Hoffman) — a retired art teacher, who experienced moderate fame as a sculptor — and his emotionally fragile adult children.
The baseline of the story is the thread of familial terrains that are sometimes flooded with bitterness and regret.
Adam Sandler gives an illuminating performance in the role of divorced single-dad and unsuccessful musician — Danny. His daughter Eliza is off to college and suddenly he’s faced with more face time with a father that was righteously imperfect, and yet still supremely lovable.
The youngest of the three — sister and daughter — Jean — embodies the spirit of dignified spinster with modest expectations — who is helplessly kind-hearted and generous despite the threat of being being overused.
Matthew, played by the always dependable Ben Stiller is the lauded son who conquered the world and emerged better for it. As a Los Angeles based financial advisor to the stars — the fact that he is the half-sibling isn’t a shock.
The film by respected veteran, Noah Baumbach who specializes in the acute delivery of relational complexities — evoked my own feelings of guilt and fear.
When you approach middle-age — the immediate response is the onset of your mortality and how it affects the way you would score your existence — thus far. Your shortcomings are magnified for all to revel in.
Suddenly, time is no longer a friend and your ability to calm your deepest anxieties becomes a more labored endeavor. Watching the scenes where Danny confronts his father and half-brother for the role they played in his chronic insecurities — overwhelmed my already puddled disposition.
The fragments of family life are composed by the reality of being gifted to a group that you didn’t willingly pick. You can spend your life blaming your emotionally distant father or scolding your habit of not picking others over your own fulfillment.
But, ultimately — the only way to reclaim your narrative is to accept how the past deserved its time, but not at the expense of your present and future.
I came to this conclusion while Danny began his journey away from mental imprisonment and towards the freedom of sunny skies and cloudless possibilties.
Movies always seem to end with some level of resolution, but in real life — it’s a lot harder activating those tendencies.
There’s a reason why my younger brothers don’t call often and there’s a perfectly valid explanation for why my parents believe I’m to blame for my single and motherless status. I would like to lament that I’m misunderstood — but that would be too dramatic.
The truth is that I’ve always harbored the insatiable need to be the roving gypsy — with the weapon of fluidity to save me from extinction. Yet, despite my best efforts— I find myself alone, overheated, restless, and punctured by the offering that summons all the reasons why growing up isn’t for pussies.
In a blink of an eye I transformed into a woman who is still wrapped in the blanket she bought at the age of twenty-five. After years of self-indulgence — my time of reckoning is at hand. My aging parents are perplexed at how far I deviated from the most basic of expectations.
The loneliness Danny feels when the ire of exclusion alienates him — is akin to what I encounter when I scroll through Instagram and see the photo album that wasn’t personalized for my benefit — before it was launched into the Cloud.
The rigidness of group texts with the sporadic phone calls only attest to the anger against me. I chose to follow my heart and I have nothing tangible to show for it — except that when I die — I will be known as a writer.
But, that’s not impressive.
What matters is the legacy of what you were to the people in your life. As I sit in silence — with the darkness caving in to the heat of the moment that made everything swelteringly still — I notice that the end credits have left me with a screen of options I won’t pursue.
I’m exhausted. It’s not just the realization that I could’ve perished alone in the earthquake that hit an hour ago — it’s the nagging reminder that my story needs to be edited to accommodate the ending of my choice.
Getting older means making decisions that no longer center your interests.
My parents need me because they are a lot older, and that means physical and emotional vulnerability. I had a good amount of time to redefine the American Dream into a version that includes a loving family of my own — and the career of a well-acclaimed writer with lots of prospects to keep the family name intact.
Now, I have to adhere to the standards of the eldest of three — who never quite made it — but is willing to make up for the mishap by abandoning additional endeavors that cater to a lifetime of service.
When cantankerous matriarch Harold Meyerowitz experiences a medical emergency that forces him to be hospitalized — we witness the genesis of characters beginning their personal odyssey — as they process the audacity of death and confront the scope of such consequences.
I have a lot to process and I’m still not sure I’m up to the task — even as I lay on the bed with my feet lifting my thighs to the wiles of the fan. I’m prepared to move closer so that I can re-introduce myself to my loved ones.
They never got the chance to really know me because I thought I needed the endorsement of strangers for proper validation. All I have are the years spent in pursuit and the short span of reassurance that I was a victim of bad timing.
I like the power of getting older — and having no control over a slightly flabby belly or the responsibility of cohesively logging in the things that will no longer come to fruition.
I couldn’t sleep because I was hot as fuck and Twitter never helps — but the last time I arose in the morning with blissful privilege was when my period was on a consistent schedule. So, it certainly wasn’t the desert storm caressing the front door.
It’s the miracle of being old enough to contemplate the life after yours ends and whether or not you can stand being a stranger to the ones that will be assigned your empty shell.
I’m drawn to stories that highlight the layered nuances that give our existence the nobility it deserves. I’m not mad that the darkness is converted to scenarios that greet my decision to move back East — to my parents — and no specific date of when I will have great sex again.
Good scripts are supposed to whip you back into shape, and these lashings won’t disappear anytime soon.
As I fall asleep — I feel the snot glide from nose to the hood of my lips, and I lazily brush it away with the back of my arm. I’m turning hot and cold simultaneously and the sensation is the badge of my mounting years — and the final end of the conflict.
I’m old as fuck and all I need is to give my parents the prize of my presence without the fairytale. Unlike Danny and the other two — my parents experienced a lively marriage that we hope never ends.
Except it will — when one of the souls in the equation takes flight. And when that happens — I won’t run away to the sunny skies of La La Land. I will see it through and hopefully get my younger siblings to be inspired to do the same for me.
In the blazing sun — as you walk along with lips fondling the thickness of the breezeless air — you keep the night before close at hand — and wonder who will care after the heat incinerates your flesh.
These are the stories we tell — when we’re alone in the heated night of sleeplessness— wondering what else we can binge on.