I'm most definitely not the first blogger to write about Sofia Coppola's "The Virgin Suicides", and I'm sure I won't be the last. The thing is, every time I see it, it sticks with me for weeks after, always leaving me with something different to ponder. The last time I watched it (they've been showing in on Flix probably once a week lately) I realized why it affected me. I had been them.
I am the only daughter to a traditional and overly protective Mexican man. Naturally he wanted to keep me safe from the harsh realities of the world, a butterfly cupped in his hands, pixie dust rubbing off as I tried to crawl through any crack I could find. I was a dreamer, I kept diaries filled with pre-pubescent (and post-pubescent) musings. I wondered a lot of what it was like to be in love, and consequently I was a die hard romantic. But I never really had a proper outlet for any of it. Not while I was being watched, cautioned, kept away. When I hit my sophomore year of high school I started dealing with a slew of different emotions and when they culminated into one thing the only word for it was "depression". But nobody outside of my precious handful of friends saw that. Adults merely writing it off as a switching of hormones, the angst that comes with teenagehood.
Once the schools counselor called my parents to inform them of my "concerning outlooks and behaviors" I quickly found myself in the office of people who "knew what I was dealing with" who could check off symptoms and suggest remedies.
"Obviously, doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl."
There was no considerable progress made until a counselor named Sally came into our home, and told my father- "You need to learn how to let go."
All the years of social and romantic isolation led me to develop very secretive behaviors. I had had a boyfriend for about seven months without them knowing a thing. I started smoking after school. I had developed a great arsenal of excuses to explain the cuts on my arms or why exactly I was wearing cardigans in our frequently hot Tucson climate.
What is so mesmerizing about The Virgin Suicides is how Coppola effectively captures all of this. The long afternoons spent in a room filled with the sounds of records, boredom. The seemingly tragic hopelessness that can stagnate in a teenage girls mind.
"We knew the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love, and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them."
She captures the rapidly beating heart that sits under the bleachers sipping alcohol with the boy whose intentions are befuddled, somehow aware of all the things she's not supposed to do, but also aware that nothing will stop her now.
"You'll love it. Peach Schnapps. Babes love it."
For Lux it was peach. For me it was peppermint.
Obviously, I hadn't taken it as far as the Lisbon sisters. During my senior year the situations arising one by one in my family left little spotlight on me and in the dim light, I snuck around the corner and ran. I took the reigns and invented my own life. But as I watch that movie I will always find something all too kindred and harrowing.
"What lingered after them was not life, but the most trivial list of mundane facts: a clock ticking on a wall, a room dim at noon, and the outrageousness of a human being thinking only of herself."
Perhaps it's the fact that though I've grown out of my old room, my old diaries, my old life, that secretive girl who only talked through pages, lyrics, metaphor still resides in these bones. I find her in the car sometimes, silent and too enveloped in an old song to realize there are other people there. I find her in the melancholy I feel when being in a room for too long. I see her in scars and old pictures. And with Coppola's masterpiece, I see what could have happened if I hadn't picked myself up. Forced myself to live despite the naive girlishness that hindered me for a few years.
"So much has been said about the girls over the years. But we have never found an answer. It didn't matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls... but only that we had loved them... and that they hadn't heard us calling... still do not hear us calling them from out of those rooms... where they went to be alone for all time... and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together."