Emme and I saw "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" together today. Frankly, I was a little nervous about taking my 12-year-old to a teen coming-of-age movie - I've also had reservations about allowing her to see certain parts of "Moonrise Kingdom," so maybe I'm just overprotective - but it turned out to be an incredible moment of understanding for both us.
The movie is based on a bestselling novel by Stephen Chbosky and explores the "dizzying highs and crushing lows" of growing up (text from the film website). But it's so much more, in the same way that "The Breakfast Club" and "Garden State" and even "The Big Chill" were much more than the sum of their celluloid frames. Within its quiet joys and even quieter heartbreaks, "Perks" said so much to me about my own life and the girl I was in high school, in part because it's set in the late 80s/early 90s and is filled with music I loved (the Smiths, David Bowie, even Camper van Beethoven).
Seeing it with Emme felt like a full-circle moment. On one level, I understood the characters and their struggles because I lived in their world at one time and was influenced by the same culture and music. But Emme understood them just as intimately, because she observes the same desires in herself and her friends: the need for love and acknowledgement and acceptance. And, maybe we even share the same questions, right now: Will I be okay? Will I make it through? Am I good enough to be loved in the way I want to be loved, fully and without judgment?
It reminded me that we are not actually the same age as our last birthday. We are *every* age we've ever been, made up of every moment we've ever had, and even though we can never go back, sometimes we can touch our fingertips to those younger selves and make contact.
And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.
- Stephen Chbosky