Lady Bird

i will never be able to say enough about this film, but tonight, watching it with both of my parents, in my childhood home, the only house i've really ever known -- something feels too dangerously precious to vault at anything. so instead, i offer you some excerpts from Maggie Nelson's Bluets, which is by no means about growing up, but is about love and grief and identity and, well... falling in love with a color.

1. Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color. Suppose I were to speak this as though it were a confession; suppose I shredded my napkin as we spoke. It began slowly. An appreciation, an affinity. Then, one day, it became more serious. Then (looking into an empty teacup, its bottom stained with thin brown excrement coiled into the shape of a sea horse) it became somehow personal.

2. And so I fell in love with a color - in this case, the color blue – as if falling under a spell, a spell I fought to stay under and get out from under, in turns.

7. But what kind of love is it, really? Don't fool yourself and call it sublimity. Admit that you have stood in front of a little pile of powdered ultramarine pigment in a glass cup at a museum and felt a stinging desire. But to do what? Liberate it? Purchase it? Ingest it? There is so little blue food in nature – in fact blue in the wild tends to mark food to avoid (mold, poisonous berries) – that culinary advisers generally recommend against blue light, blue paint, and blue plates when and where serving food. But while the color may sap appetite in the most literal sense, it feeds it in others. You might want to reach out and disturb the pile of pigment, for example, first staining your fingers with it, then staining the world. You might want to dilute it and swim in it, you might want to rouge your nipples with it, you might want to paint a virgin's robe with it. But still you wouldn't be accessing the blue of it. Not exactly.

36. Goethe describes blue as a lively color, but one devoid of gladness. "It may be said to disturb rather than enliven." Is to be in love with blue, then, to be in love with a disturbance? Or is the love itself the disturbance? And what kind of madness is it anyway, to be in love with something constitutionally incapable of loving you back?

199. For to wish to forget how much you loved someone—and then, to actually forget—can feel, at times, like the slaughter of a beautiful bird who chose, by nothing short of grace, to make a habitat of your heart.

238. I want you to know, if you ever read this, there was a time when I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world.

239. But now you are talking as if love were a consolation. Simone Weil warned otherwise. “Love is not consolation,” she wrote. “It is light.”

240. All right then, let me try to rephrase. When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light.

do you see? how loving something so intimate and foreign is devastating? how much it can break you to be seen, to be heard, to be understood? how much you can long for to be healed? how, when deliverance comes, nothing is as it was? Lady Bird is my blue. this kind of filmmaking is not a consolation. it is light.

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