From April 26, 2009
Watched another Woody Allen movie last night. Manhattan. I love that film. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching it, it involves a love triangle between Woody, Diane Keaton, and another guy (forget the actor’s name). Filmed in black & white with a George Gershwin score — a really beautiful film. Woody has a 17-year-old girlfriend (Muriel Hemmingway), and he knows the relationship’s totally wrong. After he meets Diane Keaton (his married friend's girlfriend), he comes up with a classic line to drop the 17-year-old. “Think of me as a detour in the highway of life.”
I just love that line. And it gets me thinking. Which events in my life are merely detours, and which are the real thing? If I take out all of the fluff in my life based on bad decisions I’ve made, would I end up with a straight line of a life that has purpose and makes sense? Can anyone but the Dalai Lama do this? Maybe it’s all about trial and error, and the silly events in our life we’d like to forget really do matter. Like that weird dude I met at a dance club in Pasadena who took me to Green Street Café and ordered us an appetizer-only dinner with water. His father was dying of cancer and he took me to his boyhood home in Lancaster to meet him. His mom worked at a supermarket. I think we went out about three times. I don’t even remember his name. Does he count?
I recently discovered a diary I wrote in 1989. My thoughts, feelings, and accounts of each day for the entire year. I read it not long ago. I’d forgotten about most of the events of that year, but there they were — the gospel truth of Kirsten in blue and black ink. It was a rough year for sure. Cliff and I were newly married and had just moved to Texas to make a new start. We were living with his parents. I was 25 — way immature and insecure. I got a job at a home security company and I spent way too much ink wondering whether they’d promote me and/or give me an office (both of which never happened). This was before the kids were born, and even then, there were big troubles in the marriage — but I digress. That year DID matter. I made lots of mistakes. But I learned from them. I’m not the same person today. Thank God.
Maybe instead of a straight line, we’re supposed to have detours and those detours are actually part of the line. And maybe the line’s supposed to be crooked with only brief periods of straight. I believe what I’m doing with the kids is pretty much straight (OK, I’ve had my detours there, too). It’s all an ongoing project, I guess. But I keep trying. And I get better. And then I fall off and do something completely ridiculous —and the line gets curvy again. I feel like I have a vague clue sometimes, and when I don’t, I pray. I should really pray first.
When my dad used to phone us from one of his exotic travel locations, he’d say he was calling “from the highway of life.” Maybe that’s why I like that line so much.