So, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been struggling a lot lately with the fact that time only moves forward. Maybe it’s something to do with having a kid, or with suddenly realizing that I can now count the years since I began college in decades (albeit only one), but I have discovered that I am technically an adult. I don’t feel like an adult, though. I don’t really want to be an adult. And if I feel this way, then that means that other people my age–other people that make decisions about much more important things than I do–also don’t feel like adults. That is, they don’t feel like they have their shit together. Basically, I’m saying that our country and our world are being run by a bunch of fifteen year-olds trapped in adult bodies, who are sorta-kinda winging it. It’s a very, very frightening thought.
This feeling gets stronger around the holidays, when one typically spends time with family and/or people that are important enough to you to be like family. You get a couple days with them, maybe, and then it’s back to being a fifteen year-old stuck in an adult life, and you feel like you’ve perhaps wasted your twenties trying to find a “career” when what you should have been doing is spending more than two days per year hanging out with your family, or the people that are like your family. Not that it isn’t a good life; it very well may be. Yet you feel the years slipping away, you grasp at them as they go, and they slip through your fingers like the string to that balloon you lost to the sky when you were a kid and didn’t realize that it would float up, and up, and up, and away. It is at this time that you turn to something comforting, something unchanging.
For me, this unchanging thing is (are) my favorite books. Every year for the past few years, starting in about October, I’ve reread my favorites from my adolescence and teen years. Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings. The Golden Compass. The Cat Who mysteries. All novels by Jane Austen. All novels by the Bronte sisters. For example, when I should have been reading something new for my book club, I instead read and just finished The Subtle Knife.
When I talked to my parents around Thanksgiving, they mentioned that there had been no James Bond marathon on TV this year. When I was visiting with them around Christmas, my brother noted the same thing. When I noticed that there was a Harry Potter weekend (showing all 8 of the HP movies, omg), I realized that the annual movie marathon, like my annual rereading, is a comforting point of stasis in a world that is ever-changing. Why else would we watch 90-minute movies stretched out to three hours due to commercial breaks, especially when we probably own the Blu-Ray? It’s that Harry Potter always wins. It’s that James Bond has his shit together. And when the movie is paused for a commercial break, it’s a reminder that we’re not the only one out there taking comfort in a fictional character. There are other people, having the same experience, and getting irritated by the same commercial break.
Although every year is a little different, and a little less like it was when you were a kid, James Bond always gets the girl, always thwarts the bad guy’s plot, and always comes out on top. Although your life is, to an extent, beyond your control, somewhere there is a magical world where you can wave your wand and the broken thing is fixed, and Harry triumphs over Voldemort. This is why holiday movie marathons are important. This is why we watch. This is why I lose sleep staying up late to read books I’ve already read several times. This is why 72 hours of James Bond is okay with me. We all need something to make time stand still. And so we have the movie marathon.