My Own St. Elmo’s Fire

Dara LevanBlogLeave a Comment

Cymbals in the sky boldly interrupted the serene silence. Then seconds later the bedroom became a laser light show. It was 2:30 a.m. I was irritated and a bit incoherent but now I was certainly awake. Welcome to September in the Sunshine State.

Each time I relaxed, the marching band clamored and clanged again. I decided to stay awake and wait for the storm to finish its crescendo. I thought about the movie we watched Friday night. Images and reflections created a middle-of-the-night fragmented film in my mind.

My room lit up as lightning electrified the sky. Clearly the black out shades can only mask so much! My nieces and nephew slept over; I was especially alert. I wanted to make sure I was awake if anyone felt scared.

Then I remembered one line in the film that sparked a blog idea. St. Elmo’s Fire. According to Oxford’s Dictionary, it is “a phenomenon in which a luminous electrical discharge appears on a ship or aircraft during a storm.”

I first saw the movie in the ‘80s. (I cannot recall if it was St. Elmo’s Fire or From The Hip that introduced me to Judd Nelson. Insert a dramatic, hormonal, smitten sigh! He was one of my crushes.).

Recently I told my husband we need to introduce the kids to the “old-fashioned” — their words not mine —films from former decades. We tried Pretty in Pink, but both Alec and Zoe rolled their eyes. We suggested another cult classic—The Breakfast Club. I learned Alec had already seen it! I had to stifle my disappointment. So we said, “You must see this one. It’s one of the best movies of all time.”

The past merged with the present. My husband and I were two antiques propped next to our youthful teens. It felt like an out of body experience!

Judd (we’re on a first name basis now), Andrew McCarthy (I forgot he portrayed a wry, angsty writer!), and the other actors appeared on our screen. My husband apparently had crush on Ally Sheedy. I laughed as we realized McCarthy is in love with Sheedy’s character.

My gaze shifted from the film to my son. I became distracted at times because it fascinated me to watch Alec’s expressions. Zoe started drawing, but continued to hang with us on the couch.

I was experiencing my own St. Elmo’s Fire. The storm inside me combusted, and I couldn’t stop crying. It was as if the plot and dialogue released a part of me that had been shoved down deep. I thought about David Foster’s wistful words:

People touch and then they’re gone,

But you and I will never really end

We’ll never love again

Like we did then.

Moments in the movie had new meaning. They also triggered old childhood memories, some of which were joyous. But expressing emotions wasn’t encouraged in my home, to say the least.

I do not know why, but watching the movie unblocked me. Maybe it is because each character was perfectly flawed. Maybe it’s the theme of forever friendships. Maybe it is the messages of time passing. And maybe it’s stirring up feelings of loss and longing.

Years of tears surfaced and soaked my shirt. I hugged my son tightly before he headed upstairs. Poor kid probably thought I was having a breakdown. My husband stared at me with curiousity and compassion. I said, “Honey don’t even ask why. It’s everything and nothing and all the feelings in between.” Zoe was face down and sleeping already.

But the love we made

Made everything alright

We shone so bright

For just a moment

We reminisced about our wedding. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen walked down the aisle to theme song of St. Elmo’s Fire. I sobbed again. I remember my college roommates hearing the first few notes and looking at us with such nostalgia. We surprised them; this isn’t a typical song to use for a marriage ceremony. It was our way of honoring our bridal party.

We laughed until we had to cry

And we loved right down to our last goodbye

We were the best I think we’ll ever be

Just you and me

For just a moment

As I write, I realize that is the point. Time will continue even when we want it to slow down, speed up, or stop entirely. And I do laugh until I have to cry. I do love fiercely even after a goodbye. We only have now. We have just this moment.

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