My three cousins and I, the girls I’ve clung to my whole life, were renting a cabin for the weekend to celebrate a birthday and talk weddings. All of us in our twenties and tipsy off wine and rye, walked down to the outdoor hot tub of the resort and claimed our corner of the whirlpool.
For some reason we decided to go around the circle, telling each person two things we liked the most about them. I should also mention we may have smoked a joint that day.
One of my best friends sat across from me with the chlorinated steam rising up around us, and she said, “I love the way you savor and appreciate the small things.”
She pointed out how earlier that day, I had heated up some leftover breakfast coffee and brought it to the table with a bar of dark chocolate to go along with the mixed nuts we were snacking on. She saw the way I went a little bit out of my way to enjoy the moment a little bit more.
I’ve always loved details. Please, don’t get this confused with having a strong attention to detail, because that I don’t have. I won’t see the scratches in your new hardwood floors or the lopsided way you hung the Happy Birthday banner, so don’t ask me if I do.
Every good moment has good details, and if you’re like me, a creative wacko, you play them up and feel them out. Like some sort of set designer or script writer, I design the scenes of my life so they feel just right. To carry some sort of magic.
Like my greatest movie moment of all time in Eat, Pray, Love when Julia Roberts cooks herself a meal in her Roman apartment. It’s a simple plate made up of a hard-boiled egg, some asparagus drizzled with olive oil, and a few green olives. She sits on the ground, with the sun beaming through the window to read the newspaper and eat her meal alone. She’s wearing a brand new dress.
I want every moment in my life to feel like that one on the floor of Julia’s apartment. It’s the tone I’ve set for my life.
Every meal, every trip to the beach, every night on the couch, can be savoured and enjoyed in a slow, romantic, I-just-left-my-husband-to-eat-spaghetti-in-Italy way. Light a candle, put on some music, open the window or change your outfit a hundred times until it feels just right.
Three o’clock at the cabin with my cousins, wasn’t just time of day in my world. It was an opportunity to savour one of life’s perfect moments. The smell of coffee, the feeling of a hot mug in your hand, a piece of something sweet to pair with the company of people I love the most. All these little actions in our lives carry an opportunity to feel like so much more. To bring joy, comfort, bliss.
You’re going to be alone sometimes. And even if there’s no one around to witness and no camera to prove it, you can still make life picture-perfect. Why not?
Feel bliss wherever and whenever you can.
Elsie de Wolfe, one of the first female interior designers once said, “I am going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.”
She might have been talking about paint swatches and fabric patters, but I choose to think she was talking about all of life, and whether it’s truly beautiful or not, you get to decide.
You watched purple dinosaurs. I watched Sicilian mobsters.
You pretended you were Mats Sundin. I pretended I was Jimmy Caan.
You played with make-believe astronaut suits and rocket ships. I wielded tommy guns with a cigar drooping from my lips.
When I grew up, I wanted to be a member of the Corleone crime family.
Of all the valuable things my dad showed me early in life, one of the things I’m most grateful for is his R-rated Saturday night movie selections.
And that’s why, to me, the finest moment in film history is the assassination of Santino Corleone in The Godfather, part one.
Drunk off root beer, we’d turn our basement sofa into a giant potato chip grease napkin as we picked out a blood-soaked, testosterone-filled classic. My dad introduced me to guys like Harry Callahan, Butch Cassidy, General Patton and Rooster Cogburn. These were the men who made me a man. They’re sharp good-lucks and no-nonsense personas set the standard for any little kid to learn, and learn quickly, the foundation of self-respect and self-confidence.
You just don’t find the kind of masculinity you do in today’s movies as you did back then. The world back then seemed to be a little more lawless, and so did its movies and movie stars. I don’t imagine Timothée Chalamet showing up after a breakfast of scotch and pain pills, itching his crotch, then nonchalantly laying down one of the finest acting performances in film history the way Marlon Brando or Orson Welles did. But hey, times change.
Dad and I’s favourite, by far, was Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic Sicilian-American mafia saga, The Godfather. He will vow to his death that part two is better, but I still like the first one. And the reason is simple: Sonny Corleone, played by James Caan.
Fuelled by an uncontainable anger issue and thirst for blood, Santino Corleone made his way into my eight-year-old heart. I was mesmerized by the way he carried every scene he was in. Tough, handsome, charming in gold chains and suspenders. He was everything I’d hope to be when I grew up. Thankfully, on top of murderous psychotic films, dad also showed me the basic fundamentals of being a good human, so sadly, I never ended up joining the Sicilian mafia.
Not that I’d ever tell you if I did, you rat.
In the film, Sonny is on his way to becoming the heir of the Corleone crime family in the midst of The Godfather’s ailing health. One Sunday evening he gets a phone call from his sister, Connie, begging him to come and help her after her husband Carlo had once again assaulted her. Sonny, in his classically bullish rage, sped to her rescue, ignoring warnings from bodyguards and associates. He gets to the Long Beach Causeway toll plaza and is ambushed by a pack of rival gangsters. In a tidal wave of machine-gun fire, my hero is chopped down before me.
It’s my favourite movie moment because it is a horrendous death, but it was presented to my infant eyes in such a shocking, yet beautiful way. His body lifted from his 1941 Lincoln Continental and was subsequently strutted out onto the pavement, then shook around for a couple more rounds before splattering down on the ground. Glass, wood, flesh and floral suit ribbons lay sprawled around Sonny’s body as a kick to the face from one of the gunmen ends the massacre.
I’d never gotten this kind of emotional riptide from a scene before or since. I was devastated. It’s a scene that proved to me, at probably too young of an age, that although heroes die, they never have to leave you. I think of Sonny when I put on a nice suit or when I find myself a little too angry for the situation I’m in. He, like the other Hollywood macho men dad introduced me to, define what it means to be timeless.
Rest in pieces, old friend.