The melancholy tones of a mainstream emo rocker rise in the background – she’s waiting and he’s late. He rushes through the traffic, determined to tell her that which he’s only just discovered himself, beating his hands against the steering wheel as his tires screech to a stop at the red lights and reckless skateboarders. At the last moment, he reaches the airport and screams her name. She turns. She’s the one.
We know that real life isn’t like the movies. In real life, the happy couple might divorce over infidelity or diverging career paths, or maybe the stress of a mortgage payment and dissipating passion. In film, they’re frozen forever in that final kiss.
We love those happy endings.
I’ve been covering movies with the Daily for half my college career, first as a film critic, then as a film reporter, a columnist and finally an editor. I say that I write movie reviews and people light up: What was the last movie I saw? What’s “good” right now? What’s the best movie of all time? And what, oh my gosh, what is up with Angelina Jolie?
Maybe it’s because movies offer us the streamlined narrative we never get in real life; maybe it’s those gorgeous people solving life’s greatest puzzles in less than two hours; maybe it’s the very fact of a finite theme – the ending itself.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my tenure at the Daily, it’s that maybe rational speculation will only get you so far. Movies are art; they can be politically explosive, socially incendiary, they can stir and provoke imagination to the wildest heights of fantasy. They also make great first dates and a good air-conditioned space on a hot day. The multitude of reasons we love movies varies with the person, with the day and with the movie itself.
But now, for me, one phase of my love affair with movies is ending. Reading set reports and celebrity gossip, eagerly awaiting Sunday box-office projections and debating “Final Destination 3” for hours at a time – these are now my pathetic hobbies and not my job. I’m graduating.
And with that I have to confess that years of film geekdom don’t die easy. I can’t stop wondering where my emo rockers are. I can’t imagine an end without a lesson before and credits behind it. Stripped of ceremonial cinema trappings, I can’t quite fathom the ending of my college career. But I know it’s the end, and despite the lack of a proper Hollywood send-off, I also know it’s going to be an appropriately happy one.
The happy ending is the fact that we, of the class of 2006, studied hard. We endured our upper level writing requirement (hey, I did mine three times), our race and ethnicity, our quantitative reasoning and we got every last one of our natural science credits. That’s right, underclassmen, we’re done. Enjoy your oceanography.
The happy ending is that we’re doing amazing things: We’re going to med school and law school, we think we’re getting our Ph.D.s. We’re going into corporate finance and nonprofits in Guatemala. We don’t know what we’re doing, we’re thinking of getting a job somewhere and hanging out for a while.
The happy ending is that we partied at least one year longer than you.
The happy ending is that we get to leave this University as fundamentally different human beings than who we were as we entered it. We learned postmodernism and beer pong, we learned to cry harder and love deeper than we thought we could take.
The happy ending is that we came in as slightly cool, slightly smart students from some town in some state. We’re leaving as ourselves.
The happy ending is that we were inspired – by a political rally, by a professor, by a homeless man shouting quantum physics on the corner of State Street and Liberty Street. We found something to shake us from complacency.
The happy ending is for the break-ups – the boyfriends and the ex-friends. You all suck now, but once, we had something worth having, so we carry that.
The happy ending is for our friends, who talked us down from the emotional disasters of bad grades and bad dates, who talked us up to everyone else. You were miraculous to endure our whining, you were stalwart bedrock even as we strayed from you. We love you so much.
The happy ending is for everything. We’ll miss this place, we’ll miss these people. We’ll miss being at this strange and wonderful juncture between childhood and the real world – full of freedom, absent of responsibility.
But the happiest thing about this happy ending is that, despite everything, we still know that real life isn’t like a movie. There’s no soundtrack, no dimming lights. There are, in fact, no endings – not even this cataclysmic ordeal we call graduation. We love movies, but we don’t live in them.
So maybe I was wrong. The happy ending is that for the class of 2006, this is just our beginning.
– Andrade is happy she got the chance to be poorly paid for work she’d have done for free. She’ll miss the writing, the Arts room and even the angry Opinion kids. She wishes all continuing and future film writers the very best of luck. Thanks to Jeff, Bernie, Evan, all her fellow sub-editors and even those Daily groupies.E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.