13 years after finding Nemo with the rest of my generation, I found Dory. I found her and I cried among a crowd of 8-year-olds because only the glorious combination of the affable Ellen DeGeneres and Pixar could elicit tears with only some shells, a gruff septapus named Hank, and the paranoid albeit wonderful Marlin.
As a typical poor college student, seeing movies in theaters is a luxury in which I rarely indulge. But splurge I did for this, as the June 17, 2016 release date of "Finding Dory" has been in my calendar since Ellen announced it on her show over three years ago. And you know what? "Finding Dory," in my humble, wholly unqualified opinion, lived up to the sequel’s hype stirring from our frenzied anticipation.
We first fell in love with Dory in 2003 because she was a forgetter. We found it silly—cute, even, that she knew so little about her world and could still have such grand adventures. Seven years old at the time, those in my cohort could probably relate to that myopia. We giggled as Dory and Marlin rode the current with Crush and Squirt and thought of the despicable Darla every time we visited the dentist. "Finding Nemo" was that sort of feel-good film who gave us characters that taught us so much about getting through hard times to get to the moments that make it worth it. “Just keep swimming,” Dory sang. “Just keep swimming.”
Our favorite blue tang’s message of perseverance and tenacity and stamina has its origins revealed to us as we embark on a search to find her parents, memories of whom keep popping back into her mind. "Finding Dory" gives us a very literal look into Dory’s past as our favorite characters’ second journey across the ocean, this time to the Marine Life Institute in California. We meet Dory’s childhood “pipe pal” Destiny, Bailey the echolocation-less beluga, and Becky with the good hair—er, feathers? The lovable band of characters in this film take us through the pipes of the conservatory and deep down to the roots of Dory’s family.
And then, resonating through the Pixar-animated ocean alongside Dory’s impressive whale-speech, is the idea that home isn’t necessarily a place or a person. Home isn’t where the heart is because sometimes you don’t know where your heart is. Home is a feeling—an overwhelming, unexplainable knowledge that everything is exactly as it should be. A feeling of safety and happiness. And that contentment that Dory experiences despite her tendency to forget reveals the importance of having that. "Finding Dory" is a heartwarming (if not heart wrenching) reminder of this.
Current statistics exhibit that about a third of Millenials live at home with their parents, which has not been the norm for over 100 years. As life changes, so do our perceptions of our childhood homes and residing with our parents. While living with our nuclear families may be a financial necessity, it is rarely still an emotional necessity once adulthood has been reached. Frustration of having to share a living space while trying to maintain the more independent lifestyle that adulthood promises can get overwhelming. A place that once felt more comfortable than any other may not anymore.
It is the nature of “adultolescents” to migrate and face a lot of change. I can count on one hand the friends of mine that live in a single place, not splitting their time between another place at school or with a significant other or some other sort of living situation. It’s overwhelming, splitting time between multiple locations during a year or month or week or even day. When you don’t have a continuous living situation—or, in Dory’s case, can’t remember your home—it’s easy to feel misplaced.
Teenagers and twenty-somethings, I implore you to watch "Finding Dory"simply to allow its message to remind you that “home” is synonymous with satisfaction, not situation. Take a kid, any kid, if you feel like you need an excuse to go see an animated film. But go. Give yourself the chance to feel the tremendous surge of hope in your chest when you follow the white shells home with Dory. Places and people change, but their perpetuation in your memory (no matter how short it may be!) is really what identifies your home.