“We got a baby now, H.I. Everything’s changed.“
–Holly Hunter to Nicolas Cage in Raising Arizona.
I love the movie Raising Arizona. It cracks me up every time I see it, which is often. I first saw it long before I became a mom–I mean, it came out in 1987 for christ’s sake–that’s almost 30 years ago.
(Pause while I stare at the wall, terrified and awed by the slippery nature of time.)
I love the humor, the hi-jinx style of the writing and direction. I love the actors and the acting, the beautiful dream/vision sequence at the end that always leaves me in a puddle of tears. I quote favorite lines in my every day life just because it delights me.
“He’s a lil’ ol’ outlaw, he is.”
“No, he-he-he-he’s a good boy.”
“I mean–what? We got us a family here.”
“Watch his little fontanel.”
“H.I. Sometimes it’s a hard world for small things.”
(I could go on and on.)
I thought of it yesterday on the long drive to the Boston area for our final visit to the new school. It’s so clearly about parenthood. I mean, duh. It’s called Raising Arizona, about a couple who steal into parenthood by taking a baby from a litter of five (after all, those parents had “more than they could handle.”) And the odyssey begins, the wild passion and drama and terror, more than H.I. and Ed could handle. It nearly gets them killed, arrested, divorced.
Actually, what I thought was, parenting is like going through a tunnel only you don’t know what the tunnel will be until you’re in it–will it be short? long? cool? moist? dark? lacking enough air? Will it be sparse? lush? smoothly surfaced? strewn with debris?
Will it, I thought as I drove and drove, be fitted like the inside of a drive-through car wash? With sudden jets of water, gyrating sponge monsters lathering enthusiastically, violent bursts of air, ginormous buffers whirring and polishing until your skin is raw, pink, too new.
That’s the tunnel I’ve been in (in which I’ve been?). It’s not malevolent. But it has been, hmm, unexpected, and uh, a workout–yes, that it’s: It’s been a workout.
I leave you with the final words of the movie:
“But I saw an old couple being visited by their children and their grandchildren too. The old couple weren’t screwed up and neither were their kids or their grandkids. And I don’t know. You tell me. This whole dream, was it wishful thinking? Was I just fleeing reality like I know I”m liable to do? But me and Ed, we can be good too. And it seemed real. It seems like us and it seemed like, well, our home. If not Arizona, then a land not too far away. Where all parents are strong and wise and capable and all children are happy and beloved. I don’t know. Maybe it was Utah.”