editor's note

 

“We forget all too soon the things we thought we never could forget. We forget the loves and betrayals alike, forget what we whispered, what we screamed, forget who we are.”*


Comfort food. What is yours? Ice cream, maybe. Maybe it isn’t food at all, but rather the smell of laundry done in a specific manner. It could even be the feel of warmed seat in winter. It is what you are. But whatever it is, it has the trigger that brings it all back. For me it is TV.

I just got 7000 channels with the installation of digital TV yesterday. It’s weird that somehow, I don’t end up on HBO Z—I felt sure that I would be a frequent user of this channel. I instead find myself watching channel 58: We, Women’s Entertainment. This is not a new channel, it was part of my previous Time Warner cable package. We, the channel, I have had for at least a year, and even though the premise of this channel seems promising, I never watch it. It always seems to be playing Chasing Amy.

But tonight it’s Jenny . . .

Love Story.

I tune in at the point the doctor is telling Oliver that she, Jenny, will die. The doctor is speaking frankly to Oliver keep in mind, not Jenny. This is the first time I’ve seen this film since, as a child, I tagged along with my mother, to a packed theater. And this movie crushed me. It’s weird when you remember things, and they appear so differently than the memory that conjured them. And that’s the way Love Story now played. This was my very first realization of death in the cinema and then, the shock and horror was disturbing beyond my years. It was my Lion King. Now, the movie featured the typical themes that populate life’s tortured path. “Preppy”, as Jenny refers to Oliver, from the “right” side of the tracks, Jenny from the “wrong”. Family desertion based on class and an equally devoted and ethnically divisive single father on the other. She is sick. They are young and in love. The malignant cancer test result is delivered in abstentia to the dying patient via the ears and eyes of Oliver, her husband, who would immediately survive her. Love Story suddenly doesn’t seem so much a “Love Story”, rather it becomes, then and there, watching it, “Oliver’s Story”. No need for the sequel. But then again, as the message reverberates, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. And Jenny doesn’t, nor does Oliver. No apologies. But now, life has been populated by experiences that change one’s semblance of reality. And “Oliver’s Story” is that which remains, that which is still here. Not no apologies, rather, “All apologies”. (Nirvana)

Oliver’s Story, the movie, then begins. It’s weird they couldn’t get the same actor who played Jenny’s dad from Love Story to reappear in Oliver’s Story. Wonder what he was holding out for.

Comfort food. Maybe it is the first daffodils, maybe seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Maybe it is the image of that long standing melodramatic embrace as it is about to happen, lovers, running across the field towards each other and the future—full of love, hope, peace, everything ‘70s, and “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”. Somehow it is a reminiscence of a Love Story in itself, or a pastiche of it anyhow.

Olive Ann Burns, the Southern writer of the Cold Sassy Tree scribbles on the back. Like Jenny, Olive Ann Burns succumbs to a breakdown of life, physically expiring to cancer, and yet her story of Georgian generations, and the tales of loveless marriages, town gossip, and speculative associations cast similar questions of class acceptance, love, life and death as that of the movie, Love Story.

The daffodils. Burns relishes these blooms, expectant of them as they reluctantly surrender their power to the red bud, and dogwood.

Time relinquishes decades like flowers in a season. In the early ‘90s there was a resurrection of the Pop Psyche phenom, which recalled a phenom from the Contemporary release of Love Story. The “Jennifer Syndrome”. All [men and women], young and old, idolized the icon of Jennifer. The pure, the young, the immortalized, simply for her spirit, her panache, her mystique, even in the most mundane ways. Kind of like the seasons as the spring unfolds, so do we love the different blooms, each having their own arrival, but painstakingly replacing the short life of its predecessor. But then comfort food comes in all varieties.“It all comes back. Even that recipe for sauerkraut: even that brings it back. I was on Fire Island when I first made that sauerkraut, and it was raining, and we drank a lot of bourbon and ate the sauerkraut and went to bed at ten, and I listened to the rain and the Atlantic and felt safe. I made the sauerkraut again last night and it did not make me feel any safer, but that is, as they say, another story.

1966”*

 

May the memory of Bart, Caroline, and Kent Rickenbaugh rest easy, and the lives of Anne, Katherine, Auntie Ba, Auntie Susan, Lisa, Sam, and Lila—and all who loved them be comforted.

Devon Dikeou

New York, New York

2002

 

*all quotes from Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

 

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