Yep. I did the total girl thing last night when Gene and I were trying to figure out something to watch on Netflix. "Oh my gosh! Titanic! I haven't seen that in ages!"
And here's the thing -- I know how it ends, yet I picked it anyway. Fast forward 2 hours, and I'm bawling like a baby as the icy water envelopes the ship and its unsuspecting passengers.
But, me being me, I can't help but pause and consider that again: I knew how it ended, but I chose it anyway. Why? Honestly, because when I think of Titanic, I think of the beautiful story of a young, intelligent, free-willed woman escaping the social pressure of marrying the wrong man. I think of the young, handsome artist who is finally seen by someone -- I mean, truly seen and acknowledged as a human being -- for the first time in his life. I think of the beauty and potential in their love story, even if it is cut tragically short by fate.
Last night, however, I was struck by something new -- I related to different characters this time. Ok, ok, I know that sounds like an English teacher, but hey, that's what I am . . .so just go with me for a minute. When I was young, I related to Rose and Jack, especially young red-headed Rose. That makes sense: she's the protagonist, we are supposed to relate to her. But, this time, I felt more connected to old Rose. (Yes, I am aware that 36 isn't near 100, but still . . . )
I loved everything about her. The way she packed an entire bedroom so she wouldn't be without her cherished possessions when she traveled ("I can't be without my pictures.". The confident way she stopped the scientist when he was doing more talking than listening ("Do you want to hear this story or not, young man?". The knowing way she told the other scientist that his digital depiction of the shipwreck didn't quite do it justice ("I can assure you, the experience was quite different"). The way she unflinchingly looked at a drawing of herself naked and simply said, "Wasn't I a dish?" Even the sneaky way she slipped the Heart of the Ocean back into the sea in the middle of the night.
When I was younger, I would forget about the older Rose, because I was so enthralled by the story of younger Rose. But, last night, it seemed like the wisdom of the older Rose (and dare I say the wisdom of the older Denise?) was present throughout.
One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Jack slips the note to Rose that says, "Make it count. Meet me at the clock." And she does. She meets him. She makes it count. Not only that one night, but the rest of her life as she promised him she would. Even though she never spoke of Jack, even to her future husband (because "a woman's heart holds many secrets" -- ah! so true, Rose, so true!), she still made it count. Every last minute of her 100+ years.
On this eve of the new year, I can't help but look back over 2016 with wonder. When I stop and truly think about the past year, I can't believe it is all real. Did I really have the courage to leave a toxic situation and create my own life for me and my kids? Did I really buy a house? Did I really create and restore meaningful relationships with my friends and family? Did I really fall in love with a man who has redefined everything I ever thought about relationships and love? Did I really make it count?
Why, yes. Yes, I did.
And of course I didn't do it alone. My parents, my family, my friends, my children -- they are my reason and my support, and I haven't done a single thing without their love.
In addition to this blog, I keep volumes of journals. The non-publishable stuff, the poetry I pretend to write, the feelings I have to vent. Two days ago, I read a few entries from last year, and I hardly recognized the woman who wrote them. She was afraid, she was trying to please everyone else. She wasn't making anything count. She was making do, she was making it "work," or so she thought. She was wrong, of course, but she had to figure that out on her own.
I don't mean to suggest that my path has been heroically smooth. Hell no. It's been messy and heartbreaking and nerve-wracking. And worth every blessed second.
So, Dear Reader, I encourage you to make 2017 count. Meet yourself at the clock tonight and see what is waiting for you. Because if you don't make it count, when you reach the end of this journey -- when YOU are the old Rose -- you will be met by Regret. I don't know about you, but I want to have the wisdom and confidence to take the superficial riches and false accomplishments that men seek and toss them into the ocean and never look back.
Happy New Year!