The only year I enjoyed in middle school was 1996/1997 (7th grade for me). The girl I had considered to be my best friend at the time was going to have a movie night for her birthday. Her family just got a sound system put in and we were officially 13 years old (my birthday was 12 days earlier). She had a major crush on Will Smith and she wanted to see Independence Day (1996) which had come to theaters less than 4 months earlier. Outside of the Vivica A. Fox exotic dance she put on (which really we shouldn’t have seen at that age. . .and my friend was a pastor’s kid at that), the movie amazed us!! I honestly have barely any good memories from my middle school years, but this one I cherish. It was a time when I felt connected to my peers and that I could have fun with others before a year later when they all abandoned me. It was such a simple party, but we all put on nail polish, enjoyed our Lip Smackers chapstick flavors, sang songs together that were big at the time, laughed, and held one another in fear (not that the movie is really scary, but still, we jumped at a few scenes).
I had not been interested in seeing Titanic (Dec. 1997) despite the hype. “My Heart Will Go On” was so overplayed that I started to hate the movie. I didn’t even see it until nearly ten years after it came out. Everyone knows about the nude drawing scene. My middle school boyfriend (shown next to me in the above picture) had gone to see it with a couple of his guy friends. When they were talking about the movie in my presence, I said, “Your parents let you see that movie? Even though there is a nude scene?” My boyfriend and I had just turned 14 fifteen days apart shortly before this film was released. I had just started to develop in body and felt very uncomfortable with my shape, since that is a critical time for a teenage girl. I was used to being mocked for being so behind in development. I remember looking at my boyfriend with my mouth open, curious as to what he thought of the scene. We had been together for about nine months at that point, and we held hands often, but that was pretty much the extent of our physical relationship other than one shared kiss on his 14th birthday. In seeing my face, one of his friends said to me later on, “He was really well behaved.” I said annoyed, “With what?” He continued, “With that scene in Titanic.” I went up to my boyfriend later on in the day and said, “What did you think of that scene in Titanic?” I am a naturally jealous girl when it comes to who I am with. He gave me the excuse. “I was just watching. It isn’t as if I could touch her or anything. I can look, but not touch.” I didn’t know how to respond to it. I just looked at him sadly saying, “Okay.” I was a little hurt, but had felt like I had to hold it in. It had bothered me that he saw someone naked. It made me feel less important to him, or at least that he had been tainted and maybe thirsted for more. I could only imagine how much he may have liked what he saw, especially in comparison to me. It belittled me. I don’t know if most girls have felt as tortured as I had, but it was a big deal to me. If I could go back I would say, “You can’t look either!”
Ever After (1998) had the most impact on me as a teenager. At the time of seeing it I was really feeling down in my life. I was entering high school that year and still getting over my middle school boyfriend, who broke up with me only four months earlier (we were together a year). I was feeling anything but brave, had lost all my friends, and this movie gave me hope that I could flourish. I saw it in the theater with my mom and her friend. When it came out on VHS (yes, that’s right), I watched it regularly. It gave me ideas that romance was possible and that I could accomplish things while being a strong woman. I also loved the fashion and hairstyles, so much so that I would then buy dresses that reminded me of the film and I constantly did my hair in Ever After styles (pictured below in the yellow dress). I always loved the song that played during the credits. When Rob and I started to date, he played the Robert Miles album for me which had the song from Ever After in it. I hadn’t known who wrote that song, but it made me swoon more that he knew it (it was a bit of a closet album he didn’t let people know he owned).
Freshman year of high school was a very tough time for me. It was my loner high school year where I had absolutely no friends. I used to spend my lunch breaks hanging out in the art room where no one else would be. I’d draw or cry (and a bit of both at times) most of the time there. People were a bit brutal with what they said to me because I was “the weird girl” and an insignificant part of the students. I did my best to befriend people. I almost got back together during an art class field trip with my ex who I was still trying to get over, but he was too embarrassed by me in school, but totally fine with me when alone. It hurt deeply and I’d dream of just walking up to him in the hallway and start kissing him, but I was not that brave. This was my weak year. She’s All That (1999) helped me relate big time to the lead character. I felt as if I found my equal – the joke of the school. I would cry and cry watching this movie. Also, who else really loved the song “Kiss Me” like I did? A few months later 10 Things I Hate About You came out, and the main character Kat was also similar in character but she had attitude, which I had too. I could relate to her and her sister with the over protective parent (my mom would have gladly put a chastity belt on me). This story is so good. I had long wavy blonde hair (which darkened) like Julia Stiles and was so wanting to be like her. It is probably the only girl from more modern-day films that I admired or wanted to be similar to. I started to dress like her character. Also, the line her sister says to her about wearing black underwear when you want sex. . .well I didn’t own black underwear forever because of that line. Now when I wear it, Rob grins because I made sure he knows the line too.
200 Cigarettes (1999) was my gross obsession when I was 15 and 16. By this time I switched out of the school I suffered in (a Christian school) into a public school. I decided I could be brave and start fresh. I watched this film nearly every single night for the whole year and had it memorized. The lines in that film were really good such as “A woman falls in love with you and you think it’s a curse?” I had a crush on Casey Affleck, Ben Affleck’s younger brother (who does a cameo in this) as well as a slight one for Paul Rudd. I had already seen/owned the film Desert Blue; both of these movies had Casey Affleck, Christina Ricci, & Kate Hudson in them. Looking back, 200 Cigarettes is a film I wouldn’t see or recommend to anyone else again (too much language and sexual stuff), but it brought me solace in a time when I was just confused inside and finding myself. The film is basically all about people having crazy problems with relationships and things that you hoped would work out that weren’t working out at all. It is wrapped around New Year’s Eve circa the 1980s, and all these people working towards getting to a party. I don’t know what it was that made me really enjoy it so much, but I would make my friends watch it with me if they spent a night over my house and I tried to not quote it the whole time. I don’t think they liked it either. . .but they endured. It was one of those films that made me realize that not everything works out the way you hope they might, and that each day has its struggles. It was sort of like an adult Breakfast Club. It had an amazing soundtrack too! Most of the films I had seen before this had happy endings.
[2000 had no memorable movie moments for me, but I got a new boyfriend that year: Rob]
Rob and I had our first full blown argument and heated fight that led me to tears when Jurassic Park III (2001) had started to show in theaters. We had plans to see it together and both had been Jurassic Park fans already. It was such a bad day. That day, I wore a pink dress that I later on gave to a friend’s sister (because every time I looked at it, I thought of this day). I kept trying to get Rob’s attention with it, because I am a tease. We were dating for about 9 months at that point. He was thinking about breaking up with me and had been writing emails and AIM messages to his two exes that he had been confused over when we had started dating. I had access to Rob’s email account and was growing suspicious (we knew each other’s passwords only a couple months into dating). Rob’s family had recently moved and they were still doing some unpacking which was stressful as it was. We weren’t getting along when we went to the laundromat earlier that day and sat in the hot sun shining on us in the parking lot for three hours. Rob scolded me because I was starting to care more about the physical aspect of our relationship and he was trying to be respectful and keep us focused on waiting. I was very into his touch and was not as innocent as I should have been or made others believe I was. We went to see Jurassic Park III later and came out upset because it was such a terrible movie! We nearly broke up in the parking lot. Thankfully we worked things out and only a couple months later we became pre-engaged and the rest is history since we are still together. We think of this to being one of the worst films simply because of everything that went around the day in which we saw it. When someone mentions the film, we both cringe.
I cry like a baby every time I watch A Walk To Remember (Jan 2002). I have actually watched the film once through, then again with commentary because I loved it so much (and most times I don’t like watching movies more than once as it is, let alone twice in a row, I need a day break between films). What I can tell you about this movie is a big positive one. I accepted who I was at this point. I really liked me. I was 18 and a senior in high school when this movie came out. I was still the weird girl who was also mocked as a “good Christian girl” just as the main character Jamie was. People made fun of me at times, but I still was kind to them. This movie showed me what a deep relationship can be like while maintaining focus on doing right. Rob and I had planned on marrying shortly after I graduated high school, so I totally felt I could relate minus the cancer part. The main character liked who she was and wasn’t going to let anyone change her. I didn’t want that either.