This year marks the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing. Thirty years.
I saw it then, and I just saw it again now, literally just came from the theater and guess who was with me? You won't guess. I wouldn't have either.
The same three girls I saw this movie with thirty years ago, that's who. The EXACT same three girls were with me, the four of us. The four of us, thirty years later. Thirty years later we sat by side and watched this movie we loved then and love now even more, because some connections don't go away. They just don't.
"Oh my God," my childhood best friend whispered to me only hours ago. "Do you remember when I danced with John Stafka to this song in junior high? I was wearing an orange and brown sweater dress."
I died laughing when she said that. I died like I always did with her, like I still do even though the times are far less frequent, far less. I died laughing and then I started to cry. I started to cry because thirty years is a long time. It's just so long.
She's Like The Wind.
That was the song. She's Like The Wind. She is. So is everything.
Everything is like the wind and it has been blowing so hard lately and I've been scared that it might blow us all away, that we might not make it this time and that maybe we never did. Maybe we never made it and that's why we're here now, that's why all of this is happening. I've been so sad. I still am. I'm really sad. I'm really sad, but I'm finding hope too.
I'm finding hope because I have friendships that have lasted thirty years and because movies have messages that have lasted that long too, longer. I'm hopeful because of what Patrick Swayze said at the end of the movie, right before that amazing dance scene (You know, the one where they finally land the lift!) that I cried my eyes out to today. He said:
"Sorry for the interruption folks, but I always do the last dance of the season. This year somebody told me not to, but I'm going to do my kind of dancin' with a great partner, who's not only a terrific dancer, but somebody who's taught me . . . "
This is where the tears really rolled, thirty years later. This is where it hit home.
". . . that there are people willing to stand up for other people no matter what it costs them, somebody who's taught me about the kind of person I wanna be."
Sorry for the interruption folks.
There are people willing to stand up for other people no matter what it costs them.
I want to be like that. I really want to be, but I don't think I have been nearly enough of that person over the last thirty years. I don't think I have. Partly, I haven't needed to be. Partly, I haven't noticed if I needed to be. I really haven't noticed if anyone needed me to stand up for them. I mean sure, I'd push a guy in a bar if he touched my friend in a way she didn't like. I'd cuss him out too, if he dared to cheat on her, and I've been mostly kind and compassionate and tolerant and all of those words everyone wants to be, but I'm just not sure if I stood up. I'm not sure if I stood up and I want to stand up, no matter what it costs. That's scary. No matter what? I hope so.
"I'm sorry I lied to you," Jennifer Grey said to her dad in the movie, thirty years later. "I'm sorry I lied to you, but you lied too. You told me everyone was alike and deserved a fair break, but you meant everyone who's like you. You told me you wanted me to change the world, make it better, but you meant by becoming a lawyer or an economist, marrying someone from Harvard. I'm sorry I let you down, but you let me down too."
I thought Dirty Dancing was just about dirty dancing. I didn't know it was filled with so many implications for social justice. I never knew, but then again maybe I did. Maybe I winced thirty years ago when that asshole Robby said that some people count and some people don't. Maybe I winced. I hope I did.
Maybe that's why I've always loved it, loved it so much. I could just never put my finger on it before. I think there are a lot of things like that, things I didn't know, but I did, just couldn't quite put my finger on. Like, I never knew that friendships could last for thirty years and that you could stand next to a cardboard figure in a movie theater in your forties and laugh and laugh and laugh and think:
Maybe I HAVE been standing up for something all these years. Maybe just holding onto the same people in your life for this long, this amazingly long amount of time, means you've been standing up for something.
Maybe you have. Maybe I have too. And maybe . . .
Ive. Had. The time of my life.