I remember watching “The Sound Of Music” for the first time.
My mother took me to see it on the “big screen” in Memphis. It was our first girls trip together. And if my memory is correct, the first time my 40 year-old mom had driven solo on the highway (other than to Little Rock, only 30 minutes away).
It was 1964.
I was probably in my white go-go boots, the lyrics to “These Boots Are Made For Walking” running in my head. Those boots made me swagger. As if I were the tall, thin, long-haired, daughter-of-a-movie-star-crooner myself. I channelled Nancy Sinatra.
I was a little girl on the cusp of being a not so little girl. Fairly pale, big blue eyes with white cat-eye glasses. And a bit sickly.
But I was going places in those boots.
Now I was headed to Memphis. To the big city. I can remember how excited I felt.
My mother, I am positive, was in heels and hose. Perfectly coiffed. Chanel #5. Trim and slim. If you are a fan of Mad Men, you have seen her.
I have no stories to tell about the trip. I have few memories, other than vague ones of being mesmerized by the theatre itself. Just how large the screen was. How beautiful the music sounded.
What I do remember is this. Even as a child, it was not the musical blockbusters that I loved. Not “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,” or even “Edelweiss,” which I performed frequently with my guitar in high school. (That, and “Puff the Magic Dragon,” which, by the way, I naively believed was about a dragon and a little boy… the pot smokers among my high school buddies must have had a good snort over that one…).
My favorite song was, and still is, “I Must Have Done Something Good.”
Interestingly, in recent interviews, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer admit that they were having a ferocious attack of the giggles during the take. They could barely get the song out. They had become good friends and it was difficult to perform seriously.
Whatever you think about the movie, this is what my 10 year-old eyes saw. A girl thought she wanted to be a nun. But she couldn’t follow the rules of being a nun. She was always getting in trouble. She was sent off to be a nanny. She tried to follow the rules of being a good nanny. She broke those rules too. And to top it off, she actually argued with her boss. And fell in love with him of course. Then they sang this song where he seemed as delighted to have her in his life as she was to have him.
Wow. You could argue and fuss? And a man would still love you? It was monumental to me. “Climb Every Mountain” applied to women as well?
I was being reared in a world where a woman did not forge her own destiny. Hers was to find a man and create a life that was defined by being his wife. I may have burned my bra as a sophomore in college but earlier messages were very, very strong. I wanted to believe one thing, but had been taught and shown something quite different.
It was a struggle for years.
As I watch the movie now, tears still come to my eyes as I see the character Maria walk down the aisle, to the strains of, “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?” It wasn’t that the “problem” was solved by her getting married. The problem was solved because she had learned that she could be herself. She could accept who she was.
Become her own person.
Unfortunately, we have a way to go as a culture. I listen to young women still struggle with how to balance following their own dreams and ambitions. How to have strong opinions. Be assertive. Work hard at what they want. And trust that there are men out there who will want “that kind” of woman. Rather than one who focuses on how sexy she looks, how thin she is, or going out to bars every night to catch some guy’s eye.
I hear fear that somehow they will miss their opportunity for a partner. If they focus on developing their own life – their own goals.
I hate this. For both women and men. It’s such a waste.
[tweetthis]Be you. Trust someone will discover you. Who wants & loves you as you are.[/tweetthis]
That’s what Maria found out. It took me a while but that’s what I discovered as well.
‘Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.
But somewhere in my youth… or childhood…I must have done something good”.
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