Happy Birthday Robin Williams. You would have been 64 today. We still need you.
I had a dream about Robin Williams last night. A very strange, sad and haunting one. And it went like this:
Through some type of circumstance, I became friends with his daughter Zelda, who invited me to her family home to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner. In the dream, it was explained that her family usually held a pre-Thanksgiving get together the day before in their home – somewhere, followed by the actual holiday celebration in their other home – somewhere else the next day.
Strange of location, familiar distorted territory. That was the first home. It seemed to be in the middle of a forest that was in the middle of a city. Robin approached me, all smiles, yet he was silent – hanging back in a haunted way. He proposed a toast, and then disappeared behind a door to a room that was like a little shack in the middle of this outdoor area. We didn’t see him for a while. He was a thought – a person who existed in another room and we couldn’t see him. His family was around. His second wife was there, talking to other people and her kids. Everyone knew that his absence was usual. They shrugged their shoulders and continued on. I felt a sadness. Perhaps due to me wanting him with us – outside that disembodied room with the door.
His youngest son hung out with me. He seemed really cool. So weird that any of this stuff would enter my mind. I don’t know his kids, never even imagined it. Perhaps their faces from red carpet photos and the AT&T Park appearance during the World Series permeated my mind. It feels inappropriate to have them in my mind. Like their presence in my head is an invasion of their privacy.
Then, the next day came. Thanksgiving. Daylight. Robin appeared out of this room. He looked dapper in a dark coat. He wore a bright green scarf with matching green hat and gloves. He approached a driver who was waiting to take us all to the next location for the main dinner. I saw him. Then I turned to one of his kids. Then I turned back to him. He was gone. Only his green hat, scarf and gloves were left behind, crumpled, lying on the floor. He had dropped them. I picked them up, wanting to find him to give them to him – but he wasn’t even near. Everyone around me accepted it.
An old friend of mine commented on Facebook this morning, that she never understood why Peter Pan has usually been played by women. From Mary Martin to Cathy Rigby to last night’s Allison Williams, it’s confounding why this has become a habit when casting this role.
I didn’t see last night’s live version of “Peter Pan” on NBC, but I have read some interesting comments and funny tweets. One person on Twitter thought she was seeing one, long SNL sketch with Christopher Walken. Ana Gasteyer tweeted, “I want that tinkerbell noise to remind me when I’m supposed to track my #weightwatchers points.”
Allison Williams seems to be nice. She’s great in the show “Girls”. Nothing ground breaking or remarkable. It’s not like a star was born thanks to the HBO show or from last night’s event. She has a terrific publicist, helping a client who obviously wants to be famous. But I digress. I’ve done enough bitching and negative smack talking this week. I only wanted to say – at the end of a Friday that marks the end of a really annoying week for me – that the only Peter Pan I want to see is in the video above. The re-imagining of Peter as a man who did grow up in the film “Hook” is my favorite. Robin Williams was born to play him, even at the age of 40.
Something extremely rare is happening here in Los Angeles. It’s raining. For the first time since moving into my current home (over two years ago), I’ve sat in on a dark, cloudy, raining Sunday watching a film. And that film was “The World According to Garp” – a viewing I haven’t had since it came out 30 years ago. The beaucolic feel of the rain outside while watching a film that was shot in towns near my home town made me feel like I was back in New York. Then, the painful realization of the passage of time hit me, and I’ve been melancholy ever since the end credits rolled.
I remember reading ‘Garp’ long before the film came out and found it astonishing, quirky and amazing. The film left me with the same sickly sweet feeling over the adult themes and the churning emotions, the sexual questioning, the anger of maimed woman and the infidelities of people testing their boundaries within the course of life. No one else could portray these characters other than this cast.
Life is one long adventure. That’s what Jennie Fields told her grandson by the Long Island Sound – where I learned to swim as a child over on the Rye side and where my parents’ ashes where spread decades later. And I believed it then as a teenager when this film came out. I was looking ahead at life as a wild open field, ready to fly like Garp. But I never realized that in living life and soaring over buildings, subways and oceans, I would constantly be looking to find home again. Home – the same place I started before leaping off into the wilderness.
The movie was filmed in the spring and summer of 1981 (released in 1982) when I was still living in Ardsley New York – a small town in Westchester County, NY – very close to the Eastchester filming location for ‘Garp’. I don’t remember hearing about a movie being made with Robin Williams back then, but I do remember being on the AHS Girl Track team and hating the girls over on the Eastchester High School squad. I remember loving The Police, and running track and cross country and daydreaming on rainy autumn Sundays about being with Jimmy Oxley, my Freshman crush. And there are moments in this film that gripped me, like when Garp discovers his sexual awakening, when he falls in love with Helen, when he plays with his children, or when he angrily takes them out of the house on a rainy night after finding out his wife was cheating on him – or the horrific circumstances that lead to the death of their child.
Yet, with all this powerful adult stuff happening, just viewing T.S. Garp and Helen growing their family in their “pre-disastered” home, made me feel like I was back home – my real home – Ardsley. The early spring leaves and the lighting captured cinematically transported me back to the cosy world of my childhood, where everything was safe, and my daydreams flourished. Back to a place and a feeling that I’ve longed to find again, struggled to re-live, yet despite the long road and different homes and cities traveled to or lived in throughout the years – just cannot find again. As hard as I try.
And the saddest part is that I stand here today, thirty years after this film was made, 3000 miles away from home. My parents gone. My field still open, but longing to close in on another road. And no more Robin Williams. I wish he could have stayed with us a bit longer. He was so beautiful in this role.