'Tis another birthday. This story isn't about this year but rather last year's milestone, my 40th birthday.
The Saint Louis film festival occurs during November. As it happened in 2009, one film had a single showing, on my birthday. According to the summary on the website, it was a Romanian movie about a 40-year-old Romanian woman, Felicia, who lives in Amsterdam. She had been away for 19 years (as I had been). She returned every holiday to see her family (!), but she hated the travel and found it increasingly difficult to leave her homeland. The summary said it was about her struggles with identity, family, and aging.
Though I had considered many grand plans, throughout the year, for my birthday (London? Paris? all-night partying?), I hadn't acted on them. Now, in mid-November with no plan (and many queries from friends "how will we celebrate?"), I was obsessed. I re-read the film description dozens of times.
I decided to spend my 40th by going to see this indie film, alone. I wanted it to give me insight on my own life: secretly, I knew I would be influenced by Felicia's decisions. O Felicia, show me what to do! Our fates will be paired forever!
And so I sat in a dark theatre, almost empty save for 9 Romanian strangers. In short, the movie was awful. It had no plot and only barely matched its eloquent summary. It was 90 minutes of a daughter and mother arguing at an airport. Worst of all, it didn't tell me that I should move home.
The movie was so bad that it was a running joke for a couple of weeks (I did have several big birthday dinners that week, and it made for a good story). However, I eventually learned the lesson. If I really needed a foreign film to guide me on big Life Questions, then I already knew the answers.
Add the Vancouver Olympics, and voila, here we are, writing from Charlottetown. I had dinner with my family last night, and more dinners to come with friends. My first birthday season on PEI since 1990.
Thank you, Felicia. My dear, it has been quite a year.