Last night, my mom hosted a gathering of her, my aunts and two of their cousins we hadn’t had a decent visit with in 7 years. In our unwavering tradition of being Italian-American, there was enough food for a small wedding and mom played bar tender. I was honored to be seated at the table, to hear some family stories from a different perspective, and hear some new stories I never knew about. It was glorious to laugh and be in on their jokes, their wisdom and joy.
At one point, cousin Donna regaled us with the story of how she use to babysit me when I was about 3. And how she was worried at first about entertaining a 3 year old, but my mom waved her hand and said, “Just put on the Wizard of Oz.”
Oz was my childhood obsession, and probably why I love movies so much today (and watch them constantly on repeat- old habits die hard). I have heard from all of my older cousins that I use to torture them, making them sit for viewing after viewing with me while I sat entranced by Dorothy’s journey and challenges. It’s their favorite story to tell new suitors that I bring to the family functions for the first time. Most comically, my cousin Danny will usually ask (to my humiliation) if I’d made Mr. New Guy sit through The Wizard of Oz yet, and then wile away the next 10 minutes with embarrassing stories about how I was obsessed and crazy I was about this movie.
(For the record, I’ve never made a boyfriend watch the Wizard of Oz- One night stands on the other hand…)
On this night (with no boyfriends in attendance), Donna added her own interpretation of what this experience was like. She said candidly,
“You would sit there, with tears running down your cheeks and say, ‘Oh, Dorothy!’ And when it was over, you would rewind it and watch it again.”
So basically, even as a 3 year old, I was an emotional masochist.
I would watch, and lament, and then watch again, feeling the tear at my tiny heart strings for Dorothy to figure her shit out and find her way back to Auntie Em.
Its funny to identify this behavior, and to see how in some ways, it still exists in me today. Not in the way that I watch the Wizard of Oz on repeat everyday, (I am a *mostly* functioning adult with a full time job) but I do tend to get caught up in my feelings, and sometimes I play things over and over again in my mind, lamenting and trying to figure out what I could’ve done differently.
Maybe the lesson here is not to worry so much about changing the past, but remember how experiences made you feel, and deciding what to do going forward when faced with those feelings again. After all, ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.’
Maybe its time to watch a new movie.