Midnight in your imagination

Admit it. Don’t you wish you could escape reality, just for a moment?

I have. This weekend I faced returning to school, cleaning out my parents’ house, reorganizing my house, and making some other important decisions.

I felt as if my brain were spinning like a cage on one of the old Zipper rides at the carnival.

So I escaped…vicariously, of course, through a romantic comedy, my all-time favorite genre of movies.

I blame my movie adventure on one of my newspaper editors. We were planning the February issue of The Edge and found ourselves making a list of our top romantic movies. We both agreed on Leap Year, and I was determined to watch it this past weekend.

The luck of the Irish was not shining on me though. I couldn’t find Leap Year on any of my movie channels. But I serendipitously discovered another movie called Midnight in Paris that could possibly rank second in my all-time favorite movie list, falling close behind my top choice Serendipity, of course, and giving Leap Year a tight battle for the number two slot.

Midnight in Paris may be the most romantic movie I’ve ever seen. It’s as if someone tore a page out of my journal, tweaked a few details, and turned my thoughts into a motion picture.

Owen Wilson takes the lead role of Gil, a hopeless romantic writer, who pays the bills by turning out lucrative Hollywood screen plays. But he wants to write a novel. He’s written a manuscript, but he has shown it to no one, primarily because his finance Inez (Rachel McAdams) belittles him and doesn’t support his dream.

He wants to move to Paris and walk in the rain and reminisce about the past. Inez finds herself attracted to a pompous know-it-all pseudo expert in everything from wine tasting to art. As Gil grows closer to his dream city, he moves further away from Inez. Their ideas of romance don’t mesh. His imagination fuels his passion. She can’t see beyond dollar signs and prestige.

When Gil takes a midnight walk, his life changes forever. A strange car pulls up beside him, and the driver offers him a ride. He finds himself transported magically back to the Golden Age of the 1920s, where he meets a host of creative artists who re-ignite his own passion—F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, Gertrude Stein, Cole Porter, to name a few.

Gil must decide whether to live in the past, to stick with the status quo, or to change his present.

Admit it. If you had the chance, wouldn’t it be great to step back in time to meet the artists who fuel your passion for literature, music, or art? Wouldn’t it be great if that one moment breathed new life into your dreams?

I actually had the chance to do that once, well, kind of. I took a creative nonfiction class for my master’s degree in journalism education through the University of Missouri, and my professor asked us to incorporate all five of our senses as we wrote a piece about a specific place. Back then I hadn’t started my novel, and I was still doing quite a few celebrity interviews. My favorite band was the Eagles, and my chance of interviewing one of the original members was approximately one in a million. But what if I did interview one of them? Where would we meet? What would I say?

I threw caution to the wind and imagined myself in The Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Why? Because that’s where members of the Eagles band used to hang out when they first got their start in the music business.

I didn’t have the money to fly to California, and I certainly couldn’t go back in time. But that’s what I what I wanted to write about, and somehow I needed to get there. I researched the place and its surroundings, including the Italian restaurant next door, and somehow I found myself sitting next to Glenn Frey and Don Henley in The Troubadour, watching Steve Martin on stage, and drooling over the aroma of pasta dishes wafting in from next door.

It was one the best experiences in my life that never really happened, and I remember every little detail, despite none of them being true. That’s why I find it so ironic that a few years later Eagle guitarist Joe Walsh did call me, and we did have a real one-on-one conversation. This little incident just reaffirms my belief that ANYTHING can happen. Dreams do come true.

So if you had a chance to step back in time to meet someone who inspired you? Who would you meet? Where would you go? To what era would you travel?

I’ve occasionally written about creative escapes in my blogs. I’ve spent quite a few weekends in Franklin, perusing the Henpeck Market and eating at McCreary’s. As often as I can, I go to Memphis and hang out in Handy Park and the Memphis Music store.

But when I can’t travel very far away, I find myself in one of the quaint railroad towns like Normandy, Wartrace, or Bell Buckle—Bell Buckle, especially. There’s just something magical about that little town.

I have several readers from all across the nation. If you ever find yourself traveling down Interstate 24 toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, you MUST take a short detour to Bell Buckle. I’ve never had the pleasure of staying in one of the several bed and breakfast homes, but, hey, what a GREAT place for a writer’s retreat. Someone needs to organize it. It might just have to be me.

There’s one particular antique store in Bell Buckle that takes me back to the 30s and 40s every time I walk in. I can’t explain it, but I can feel it. I also like visiting the ice cream shop.

Now that I’m committed to a diet, I probably won’t see another ice cream soda until this spring, but every time I step foot in this parlor I feel as though I’m ready to order a strawberry phosphate or an ice cream soda with Emily and George from Our Town.

To me, Bell Buckle is enchanted. Of course, I’m a tourist, not a local. But you can find me there almost every week, strolling through the town, visiting the boutiques, or simply going for a ride through the country side. It is my escape.

So far I haven’t “met” any of my favorite writers in Bell Buckle although I wouldn’t be surprised in Edgar Allan Poe were to show up. I imagine he and I might speculate about the Victorian houses that appear to be haunted and the graveyard that sits in the middle of town.

Do you need an escape as badly as I do? Where would you go? Who would you meet? Why? When? Give me all the five w’s and throw in the h.

I really want to know.

9 thoughts on “Midnight in your imagination

  1. Most of your readers are probably not old enough to remember Y. A. Tittle, former quarterback of the S. F. 49ers and the New York Giants from the time I was in the first grade until I got out of high school. I was engrossed in his career for 16 years. I decided to escape to go see him a few years ago to prove to myself that he was in fact a “real” person. As you know I have spent most of my life, either going to a ball game or getting ready to go a ball game and it was one of the top thrills of my lifetime. I’m not sure who it touched the most; he was shocked that an old man came to see him to take a step back to his own youth.

    • When I went to Boston the first time, I tried to sneak into Fenway during the off season. I mean how I could I go all the way to Boston and NOT see Fenway? I got caught but talked my way into the stadium. But as I stood there looking at the Green Monster, I went back in time and “watched” the greats from my youth–Carlton Fisk, Luis Tiant, Fred Lynn, Yaz. I also thought about Ted Williams, my dad’s hero. It’s funny how memories really can take us back and how we can actually, for a moment, live the experience again.

  2. I just want to go to the beach. Sara Dessen lives near the beach in North Carolina. Maybe she and I can chill on the beach and talk about writing. Yeah. Sounds good.

  3. I sure am looking forward to escaping into her books. I’m not accomplishing as much as I want to as fast as I want to, but slow and steady wins the race. Right?

  4. I enjoyed reading this post (as always!). I’d like to escape to a small farm in a beautiful valley and watch the sun set in peaceful silence.

    I haven’t visited Bell Buckle in a long time. Maybe I’ll have an opportunity to go sometime soon. : )

    • I highly recommend a trip to Bell Buckle. I am always excited to the sunrise. I’ve been know to wake up early, oh, say, in Montana, just to catch a glimpse of the sun coming up. 🙂 I like sunsets too. Yesterday God painted a masterpiece. I only wish I had my camera.

  5. Hey there Tee! Woody’s movie was pure Woody. I loved the premise, but to me at least, it wasn’t “Annie Hall” which is my all time favorite. A distant second is “You’ve Got Mail” February 14 is also my wedding anniversary and a very happy time. I love the exercise your instructor gave you and like your wonderful posts, provokes thought. I did have dream come true meeting with Sandra Betzina. (a rock star in the sewing community) I actually won a day with her and wrote about it on my blog. It was wonderful and ended having dinner with her and her husband in her nifty loft in San Francisco. She also invited my husband to attend. As far as railroad towns, I recall one of the coolest ones being in Pa. Jim Thorpe is such an interesting town named after an athlete that lost gold medals in the Olympics because he played two basketball games for five dollars. Thanks for another great post, Tee!

  6. Ahhh, Bellbuckle, Wartrace, Normandy…. I call them whistle stops. What a neat tour up through those towns… and Christiana. I ride a motorcyle. I don’t ride the highways but the backroads, going through as many of the little towns such as these as I can work in. One year I rode all the way to Canada up through WV, Va, Maryland, PA, NY Vermont, and NH. Never got on the interstate; never through a town much larger than 20,000, mostly less; including Punxsutawney, PA. You can really grab a handful of nostalgia in those little towns. I grew up in Clarksville, TN, (that was a few years ago), but these little towns remind me much of Clarksville then; quaint stores, friendly atmosphere, an invitation to sit down and just chew the fat, or contemplate. Yes, those were the days. Thanks for this very interesting post. I have just joined your blog, but am really enjoying your writing.

    • Lucky you! I’ve only been on a bike once…for a very short ride. I was both terrified and thrilled. I believe if I could live anywhere in the world, I would probably choose one of these little places. I traveled through New England one spring, Interstate most of the way, but when we got to Boston, we traveled to Salem. I loved how the small towns blended into one another. The architecture was so unique. Even on the interstate I noticed the barns on the side of the road–much different constructions than what we have in the South. I just thought they were beautiful. I spent a littl time in WV, Va, Maryland, PA, NY, Vermont and NH too, but not on the backroads. I’m sure I missed out. By the way, thanks so much for givng me some of your time to read my blog. I love to read the comments of readers. I learn so much. You have made my day. 🙂

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