Saturday, March 25, 2017
First there was an opportunity... then there was a betrayal
A review maybe? Not really. What's more boring than the average film or music review? Very little. What can I say? This movie could be, in some ways, perhaps without the flashbacks to the first installment from 1996, the first part. It's more of a complete film, whereas Trainspotting was almost a long-form music video. There is a plot with this one.
But yah, first there was an opportunity, and then there was a betrayal. That line in and of itself is the plot of Trainspotting 2, but it aptly describes any addicts story. If you are or were an addict it's going to resonate. Opportunity are betrayal is the recurring pattern in every addict's life, isn't it? You betray everyone, your family, your children, your loved ones and most of all yourself.
You betray yourself repeatedly.
Over and over and over and over and over.
Then if you're lucky (or unlucky) enough, you live long enough to have to go back and confront your whole history, and that's really the foundation of T2. Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh to reconcile his past. No spoilers here. It is what you might imagine it to be, and that doesn't mean redemption and a happy ending. Life doesn't work that way anyway does it. It's not a remake of It's A Wonderful Life. It's not Frank Capra. It's not a happy community around a Christmas tree with carols and bells and fucking angels. But maybe there's closure. I haven't sorted that out yet, but there seemed to be the first steps of making peace with the past, and acceptance. When you're an addict, you just are what you are. You can get clean and live a happy, productive life. The one you couldn't get close to when you were using, but you're still an addict. A pickle will never again be a cucumber.
But what was it Joseph Conrad said (through Marlow)? Going home must be like going to render an account.
That's Trainspotting 2.
I shambled out onto Broadway after the credits rolled, filled with memories of 1996 and alcoholism in full bloom and already weighted with quite a history of my own. Most everyone I know now is gone, dead or moved away but it's impossible not to wonder/fear who I might run into when I cut to 3rd Avenue and down through The Bowery. It's hard to say what evokes the worse anxiety, who I might run into, or that I might run into nobody at all and that is mostly the case and it puts me in a weird state. Many of the landmarks are still here but the faces are all different. They types of faces are different. The conversations are not the same. I passed several different groups of people chattering excitedly like monkeys about interactions they'd just had on Instagram and Facebook. There were no Instagrams or Facebooks in 1996. There was no internet as we know it today. People talked face to face or they talked on the phone or they didn't talk at all. They wondered about people they hadn't seen in years and what they looked like and what they were doing and there was usually no means of finding out or catching up.
But that doesn't twist at my head quite the same as the feeling out of place and out of time. That's not exactly a new feeling. What's new is the realization that I'm wandering around addled and lonely and fearful that there are still parts of my past to go back and face, or that might just show up and surprise me. I don't know. The film left me feeling unsettled.
I've only ever given passing thought, for example, that when my cousin was sent away in 1979 he was only given 25 to life. He was up for parole ages ago, and though there's never been given much consideration to releasing him, it remains a distinct possibility. He told his brother Doug a few years ago that he's considerably upset that I've never attempted to contact him. He told him that it would have meant a lot to hear from me. I was really taken aback and for a moment felt an obligation to write a letter. I went so far as to get his address and then deleted the e-mail as soon as it arrived. What is there to say? The nicest possible thing I could conceive of writing is that I'm no longer afraid of him. Could it be possible that he doesn't remember everything? I've forgiven him insofar as I believe he is too animal dumb to be responsible and have long thought that the most compassionate thing that they might have done would be to put him down like a sick animal the way we did with sick animals when we were growing up. Strange but true, that was our idea of compassion.
What could he do now at 67? Could he be my personal Francis Begbie? It's not likely, but it's been nearly 40 years now. Perhaps I underestimate what seeing his face might bring back. I saw a picture online some time back, of him in his 20s, probably not long before he committed the act that got him put away. It was jarring in a way that I wouldn't have imagined it would be.
But shit now... back to New York City. There is still so much history here for me, even if it's a ghostly back drop to a shiny, new foreground. Maybe it's that I still carry a sense of... identity... that makes me insecure among New New Yorkers and Gentrified Brooklyn. I do wonder sometimes what they see when they see me (that's if they see me at all what with their selfies and Instagram and Snapchat). Can they see the filth? What part of me can they see or not see?
Of course that's all in my head isn't it?
So exactly what is it I'm doing when I walk around. Is it looking for fragments of the past or an attachment to the present? Is it hiding from the present? Or none of that at all? It could be just walking.
What I do know is that at some point I will find myself "home" and that there are past deeds that will revisit themselves upon me. It's not even certain exactly what they are or where we will stumble into each other but there's long been the sensation that the last boot is about to drop. It would be nice to know at least what to expect.
What I left the theater with was a reminder that there is a past yet to be faced. There are debts owed. There are bills to pay. That and that I will never, ever be clean and innocent, but fuck it. What would that even feel like?