Friday, November 2, 2012

"Liberal Arts"

Few weeks ago I saw a movie that struck a chord with me and resonated with my own experiences in Gainesville. "Liberal Arts" - shown as my regular serving of independent and difficult film at The Hippodrome Theatre. A man not much older than me revisits his old college town not that much different from where I live today and establishes a bond with an opinionated, intellectual, well read 19- year old that could have easily been modeled after some of the people I've met. The difference of course being that Gainesville is much more than a university. While in the movie you've had to drive quite a bit to get anywhere outside of school I'm in an actual city. People live here and have for generations. The lead in the film seems somewhat immature, has a hard time letting go of his college experience. That's why he's bonding with the girl who is just beginning to discover who she's becoming so well- part of him wants to mentor her, part wants to be like her or relive his glory days if there were any through her. We find his idealistic recollection of his  own  college experience through art and literature that he's unable to let go of that is faced with the harsh reality. And it got me thinking about my friends and my own experiences. Yes, I do know people in their late thirties that seem not very much unlike him. They have regular jobs in the city, yes, but enjoy the younger vibe of the town. I call it the "Peter Pan syndrome". With nights of pubs and bars and clubs, "hanging out", no deep committed relationships to speak of the feel stuck in the moment. They could easily move anywhere else, with their skills and mindsets be a great success everywhere they set their eyes on, but they are here. They choose to be surrounded by 19 yearolds, although, trust me, at some point it will only make you feel older, and there doesn't seem to be any end game or any progression. There is only today. There is only this month.

My  reasons for coming here were of course different. I was looking for a place where I could not only function and exist, but where I would be liked and accepted. I didn't really have a lot of real life friends before I moved here or many opportunities to meet people. I guess I needed somebody to tell me, you have Cerebral Palsy and that's OK. Meeting those 19 year old kids that were very young, but very open minded and passionate helped me accept myself, because they were accepting me.Not unlike the girl in the movie they were well read and opinionated. Later you discover that it's part naivety, part self created, projected image. Intellectual critic is an attitude just like the hipster fad. But it's what I needed at the time.  I also wanted to experience... something. This sense of community, of inspiration that I've known from American films. I've never had a college experience the way people here know it. I came from Poland, I lived in Warsaw, with my parents all through university. I wanted to make memories, I wanted a place where I belong. As a sidenote, I think the movie producers gave this generation too much credit. There are not that many articulate, deep thinking "about things in life" kids that I've met out there, but those that I have did seem very much alike. The movie left me with a quote that I just can't seem to shake off. A prison is anywhere you can't leave. That's how I feel about Gainesville sometimes, waiting for my next big step. Because part of the American way of doing things seems to be,you move out of your hometown for college, you travel a lot, you spend a big chunk of time in your car, you're here, you're there, you meet people, you stick around for a bit, but then you move on

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