I Am A Raven


The first time the film reel clicked, spun, projected, I was probably too young to watch half-naked teenagers kiss on a beach.

I remember we sat in the back row near some elderly people in that theatre, themed like a Mayan temple. The taste of greasy popcorn didn’t stick with me, but the image of Bill Murray running stiffly towards a yellow pup tent, housing two tangled ‘lovers’ is my strongest association with the moving picture. Since then, I’ve watched the film at least 93 times, each viewing revealing a new object (a half eaten apple, an embroidered squirrel).

For the longest time, I searched for Sunday school shoes, hoping Buffalo Exchange would also regurgitate a fishing tackle basket and a vintage mustard suitcase. The searching was all for naught and my cat (once kitten) wouldn’t fit comfortably in a bait basket anymore.

Throughout the film these kids play the role of adults in their own lives. Yet they are perfectly alienated from reality and the reality of being an adult. I mimicked their authority, thinking I owned my life, yet in truth it was merely a small section of my life that was my own.

Once you look past the stark blue eyeshadow and raccoon skin hat, the short dress and the skillfully set up camp, you realize that these two individuals are just some 12 year old kids making their their own reality, their own world. The world of Moonrise Kingdom.

Once I'd come to terms with the fact that I couldn't live in Wes Anderson's fantastical, filtered world I decided I could at least attempt to play the part of one of his colorful characters.

For Halloween one year I grew feathers. My father used an old hat to make a raven head; bedazzled in black felt feathers with Pac-man shaped yellow eyes. I used permanent marker and a bandage to bloody my hand. I was a double entendre, not only dressed as Suzie Bishop but dressed as Suzie Bishop dressed like a raven. Before people could ask who I depicted, I would blurt:

“I’m a Raven.”

Sometimes I ache for the confidence I wore in that Halloween costume all those years ago.

Sometimes, when driving through rainy metropolitan streets, Benjamin Britten’s compositions might play on the classical station. His music always inspires the image of a Volkswagen Bug crushed under the steeple of a lightning-struck church. And although the setting may be different, my hair in braids or hanging down, notebook in hand or out of hand, my first thought when the song plays will always be "It's that song from Moonrise Kingdom!".

And sometimes when spring cleaning rolls around, I’ll stumble upon the Hank Williams CD we keep in the cupboard for nostalgic purposes, the lyrics of Kaw-liga immediately intoxicating my thoughts, while the purposeful portrait of grey rapids are raided by the dorky form of a boy-scouts canoe.

Sometimes when I’m on the edge of a lake or surrounded by ebbing waves the mournful chanting that is both ethereal and painfully human will signal from the body of water and reverberate through my lungs.

And sometimes, I ponder running away. Not because I dislike my life, more because flower crowns, watching deer, and dancing to French records on a pebbly beach seem quite spell-bounding. Then I remember the 60’s are long gone and I live in a city far from briny wind and they'd find me long before I was able to reconnect with the woods.

Sometimes, I'll meet a stranger and they'll have the same effect on me as Suzie had on Sam. And I'll think of all the people I've met since that first afternoon in the movie theatre. Sometimes, I think of how much taller I’ve grown or how much my style has changed since that first viewing. All the books I've read since then, all the words I've written, all the other Wes Anderson movies I've fallen just as in love with. How my mother lives stretched over an ocean, how I live stretched over an ocean.

Then Hank fills my head with lyrics my feminism scorns (but, hey, it’s for nostalgic purposes) and the film reel clicks, spins, projects yet another viewing of acoustic countryside, turquoise water, and two teens kissing on a beach.