With all the anticipation for the premiere of season 6 of American Horror Story I decided to have a little fun and express my thoughts throughout the episode. Despite my initial thoughts, I actually really loved the show and I can't wait to see what happens the rest of this season.
She just hit a colonial woman with her car.
Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.
For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.
THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.
Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!
THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...
We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.
Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.
Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...
I read Tennessee Williams's classic 1947 play in my senior year of high school. I liked it and went on to watch the 1951 movie version. The play had already impacted me through its beautiful prose and dramatic story; the movie stuck with me because Vivien Leigh's portrayal therein of the protagonist's descent in insanity is disturbing, unforgettable, and a great work of art.
The thing about "A Streetcar Named Desire", a great American play if there ever was one, is that it is a great piece of dramatic tragedy. In a nutshell, it's about a highly flawed person (Blanche DuBois) who still displays a great capacity for seeing life itself as poetry. This is why the play is heartbreaking. Blanche might annoy us at first, but if we do not (internally or externally) weep for her at the end, we have no heart.
Tragedy and life are inseverable. I think that I'm not being too pessimistic if I say that, if we look at the word in the sense of great theatre (think of Sophocles and Shakespeare), we can say that that statement encapsulates the most redeeming part of our existence on this earth: our sorrows (potentially) have the contours of a great work of art. There's a bit (or a lot) of Blanche in all of us, regardless of the specific circumstances of our lives, and while, God willing, you and I will not end up like her, it is a great thing to take note of her endless capacity for receiving beauty in the world around her. Towards the end of the play, Blanche, now definitely insane, has a beautiful line about hoping to die on the sea. The movie omits this. Perhaps Vivien Leigh's portrayal went so far in the direction of portraying Blanche's mental collapse (for a good sample, watch this video from 2:14-2:48) that including it would have seemed anticlimactic. The opera, on the other hand, includes the line and converts it into this beautiful aria.
I walked into the theatre on that Friday perfectly conscious of the horror of Blanche's story. I walked out still fully conscious of that, but with the added full consciousness of the beauty of her story. I suppose that opera does that, blending the epitome of human vocal art with stories of terrible things happening.
I'd never been to an opera before I went to the performance of "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. It's great, as a college student in NYC, to be able to say when I go back in the fall that my first time at an opera was in Argentina. (I certainly hope to go to an opera at the Metropolitan Opera before graduating.) I do not consider it insignificant, what with the need for brotherhood among the countries of this hemisphere and the world, that I went to see a quintessentially American work of art, in an adaptation by a composer born in Germany, in South America, with a leading lady and director from Ireland.
Blanche is a woman bred on the last lingering aristocratic ideals of the antebellum South, traumatized by a sense of guilt in the suicide of her homosexual husband, haunted by the promiscuity she uses as a way to grasp at emotional solace and by the deaths of multiple relatives, and raped by her brother-in-law. I do not presume to comment on life experiences I do not have personal familiarity with, nor do I wish to make generalizations about mental conditions based on their dramatization. I do think, however, that Blanche, in a sense, speaks for all of us, when she goes on with the arduous task of living, and, amidst the horrors she experiences, refuses to let go of a desire to see life as beautiful.
The opera's libretto is very faithful to the play's text, but at one point it includes a very interesting interpolation. A Mexican woman is selling "flowers for the dead" (that much is in the play); in the opera, the woman adds an extended comment about there being flowers in hell. This is, like Blanche's speech about dying on the sea, pretty much an encapsulation of the whole play: Death, omnipresent, becomes something itself very lovely.
When the evils of life confront us and overwhelm, may we be moved by such a terrible and wonderful sentiment.