Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bend Film: Portal to Blissville

The Universe must have heard my siren call to the aging process, my little shout-out to 39, because last weekend was one of those rare times when the stars aligned and every single thing that happened made me want throw my arms in the air and sing like Julie Andrews.

Here’s how the hard facts lined up:
A) Birthday
B) Press pass to the Bend Film Festival
C) Captain Daddy willing and able to liberate me from motherhood for the better part of three days

Sounds pretty good, huh? But the hard facts never explain everything. Last year, the hard facts were that I was in New York City for my birthday weekend. The trip was undeniably incredible. But I will admit that on the day of my birthday I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sad that I wasn’t with my peeps (except for my main peep Captain Daddy). No reason to complain—it was 70 degrees and sunny, I spent the day walking through Central Park and visiting the Met. But something was missing.

This year the magic started with Bend Film’s opening night party and didn’t let up until the Chickens sang me “Happy Birthday” for the 15th time. In between were a hundred tiny miracles.

I drank Rainier beer with a filmmaker who made a movie about D.B. Cooper, my grandfather (okay, his movie ( was about the hijacker; my grandfather was just a regular guy with the same name). I met a woman who journeyed to Antarctica with the eco-conservation group Sea Shepherd to fight illegal whaling four years in a row; I sat next to her while watching footage of her in a Zodiac, zipping under the prow of a Japanese ship ( I met a trio of filmmakers in their 20s whose film was flipping brilliant and who swept the awards (no late blooming for these little buggers:

I ran into friends I hadn’t seen in ages. I made all sorts of new friends. I saw amazing films. I saw one heck of a sunset from the roof of a downtown building.

I saw a movie about a guy and a bike and cancer that made me want to go right home and hug everyone I love. I did. Then I went back downtown and hugged all sorts of other people, because after four days of soaking up tons of energy and story and creativity in the company of others, I loved everyone. By Sunday I was on such a Bend Film high, I kissed the director of operations, even though I’d just met her.

I know! I don’t know what happened to me, but it was incredible. Like ecstasy, you know? Yeah, me neither.

Bend Film, which totally rocks the Kasbah, had a lot to do with my little trip to Blissville. It helped that my expectations for the weekend weren’t already sky-high (as they were for NYC, or my what-the-heck-was-that? class reunion (see The Lost Weekend)). Surprise rapture is always better than premeditated rapture. And it didn't hurt that it was my birthday.

But I finished those four days with such an existential buzz that I might venture to say that powerful joy and connection is always out there somewhere, should we just be bold and brave enough to go searching for it.

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