First, I must state that this essay does not come out of a place of malice. I actually write this on a laptop that has a screensaver of Greta as she directs the prom scene from "Lady Bird" while also wearing a prom dress. It’s a beautiful and dreamlike photo for two reasons. One, her face has a phenomenal peaceful expression as if to state that she is completely where she wants to be in her career. And two, because she is doing exactly what I dream of doing.
Directing a film that she wrote inspired by her childhood.
Now, I know the plot line of "Lady Bird" is one told many times over. It’s a coming of age based on the life-altering year of senior year of high school. However, there are many parallels between me and the character, Lady Bird.
We both attended Catholic high schools. While I went to a co-ed dress code one and Lady Bird attended an all-girls school, we both experienced the pains of all school masses. Also, we both grew up in overlooked and under-represented places. Lady Bird ascends from Sacramento, while I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Even further, we both didn’t realize our love for our hometowns until we flew to our representative schools in New York. For Lady Bird, it is assumed she attends NYU, while I am in Queens at St. John’s.
However, the biggest similarities of our lives and theme in the film is the relationship between the mother and daughter. Lady Bird and her mother fight like my mother and I. And we all spar and makeup like any good mother and daughter duo do. There is one scene where they are bickering in a clothing store and in the midst of heated remarks, the mother pulls out a dress. Mid-fight, they agree on the perfectness of the dress. My story is Lady Bird’s story but I also know it’s a lot of other people’s story as well.
I know the universality of this tale.
Greta Gerwig did not steal my story…she portrayed it.
She listened to my mother and I’s discussions. She discovered our fights, how they only highlighted our desires for the best for each other. She poured over my thoughts and realized my love for Milwaukee was buried behind indifference. And finally, in the final scene of the film, she realized something else.
As Lady Bird is finally calling her mother after their fight before she flew off to college, she speaks of driving through Sacramento. The film cuts to the mother actually driving in the same place Lady Bird is speaking of—the bridge. Then it flashes to Lady Bird in the same position, showing the uncanniness of one another.
Greta Gerwig realized that much of what I do is a reflection of my mother. That despite our petty disagreements, I try to emulate her as much as I can.
I drive like she does, I love like she does and I am like her because we are one in the same.
Just like Lady Bird, just like Greta.