POP CULTURE 101

The Moonlight Affect

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I live for Film. As long as I’ve been alive and can remember, I always have. Growing up in a household with an alcoholic mother and an abusive step-father, it was one of my only escapes from the real world outside of a pen, notepad and playing dolls. I held on so much to all the fantasy world I could I didn’t stop playing dolls until I was about 16–the diving into a different world via writing never ceased. Clearly.

I didn’t know the term, but I knew early on both of my parents were alcoholics. If it wasn’t for alcohol, they may have never even met. If it wasn’t for alcohol, my father would probably still be alive. My father, also a businessman, workaholic and one of the boldest humans I knew next to my mother. I, for sure have some of his temperament and a lot of his mother’s looks–he caught me once as a child trying to steal her picture for my scrapbook out of his office. He never introduced me to his side of the family and although he never hid the truth I was his only child–most of my interactions with him felt like business than personal with only monetary support.  Beggars can’t be choosers, right? I didn’t genuinely feel  my father loved me until my high school graduation when he dragged himself out of bed on crutches to walk the endless pavilion just to see me graduate. What he lacked overall in family skills and the absence of his own, my mother’s parents made up for ten times over. I was seven when they moved me in with them and away from the chaos I currently knew under the roof with my mother.

My grandparents are the strongest people I know. They’re survivors, hard working and where I get my love of story telling from. You could listen to my 6’8 grandfather talk all day and my 5’2 grandmother was so loud you had no choice but to listen. They never understood my need to be creative, but they always supported down to just placing empty notebooks they found on sale on my bed. My grandmother got so curious to what I was doing with them one day she read some pieces and was honestly upset at the raw tone, but admittedly enjoyed. Our home was forever a place of realness, laughter and love. Being the new kid at 4th elementary school before second grade’s end, was not. My god-sister being the only familiar face I knew made it clear early on she was going to be everything but my friend, and thanks to her lead other kids followed suit–at school and in church, where she also attended. It wasn’t until a year later the quiet girl who always had her head in books and “the crackhead mother” punched a mouthy bully who got handsy is when it stopped. I was sent to the principal’s office, she was sent to the nurse and never bothered me again.

Friendship got easy after that. Too easy.  As a child, learning the best friend term you start handing it out like business cards. How great is it to have best friends, you take the term and want to run across mountaintops with it–until you fall off. Usually because you were pushed. It’s a term that grew to churn my stomach at times throughout the years. You put your hand on the stove a few times, eventually you get tired of getting burned. You grow tired of opening up to anyone new, and get drawn to the family that never changed faces. And maybe your true friends lie within yourself and your art, the sole company that never truly goes away or betrays you. I was never THE house to go to for sleepovers or invited much to ones, so naturally writing became my best friend. I was extremely shy around new people and couldn’t relate in group discussions to family vacation stories besides riding to visit my mother in prison, which I didn’t share for obvious reasons. I didn’t think drugs were fun or cool after my cousin and I were left at nine with my aunt’s boyfriend watching him shoot up heroin unbeknownst we were watching, and I knew nothing about boys. I liked them, but I wasn’t high or anywhere spotted, rather, on their radar.

I say all uncomfortable stuff to say I saw Moonlight this past weekend, and it really got me thinking. For those of you unfamiliar, Moonlight tells the story of a young Chiron growing up in the rough streets of Miami and follows him as he transitions to a young man in Georgia figuring himself out in the world. You watch as the adults, the peers, the isolation, the lessons and lack there of  shape him from a boy to adulthood. The powerful drama, beautifully acted by the cast and told by writer/director Barry Jenkins leaves an endless imprint on you in so many ways. The biggest reflection is who are we and why are we who we are? Who and what caused us in our adolescence to be so guarded, so affectionate, so prideful or full of shame? Chasing people and things we know aren’t right for us but it’s all we saw in life to live or quick to raise hands because we’ve been fighting our entire existence. How do we come to terms and understand the winding layout that outlined us?

I encourage everyone with a passion for film and reality of life to see this one, for it’ll have your mind absolutely blown and meditating on the humans and moments that brought you to where you are today.

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