I hate goodbyes. So when I saw the movie Brooklyn, I was weeping within the first five minutes. And I did a lot of weeping thereafter, forcing the woman next to me to snort, sigh, pick up her popcorn and leave.
Nasty, unsentimental bitch.
The movie opens with Eilis hugging her Mama and sister, boarding a ship bound for America. She’s leaving because she has to escape the small Irish town that holds nothing for her.
She leaves behind everything that she knows.
The boat trip is awful. Settling down is awful. She’s young, naive and very very homesick.
She imagined it would be easier. Brooklyn, after all, is a second home for the Irish.
But Brooklyn is nothing like home. There is no family, no best friend and no-one who understands who she is or where she comes from.
Everything is unfamiliar.
The movie is all about identity, love and belonging. It is about the importance of our birthplace and the things that shape us into the people we are today. It’s about what we know, how we adapt to change and about broken hearts.
And this is why I wept.
I remember very clearly the day I immigrated from Zimbabwe. The tears. The hugs. Saying goodbye to people that I’d grown up with. Friends. Boyfriends. Family. Housekeepers. The Cafe owner. The Greengrocer.
Leaving behind the people who knew me. Heading into the unfamiliar. And never quite coming to terms with it.
The unfamiliar can be a trauma. For me it was not understanding the thick South African accent. Wearing slip slops when everyone else was in stilettos. Turning up at a party in bell-bottoms when stovepipes were high fashion.
Not knowing what a French kiss was.
And feeling decidedly Zimbabwean amongst all the South Africans.
I’ve had more than half my life in South Africa now and I call myself South African. It’s home. But so is Zimbabwe.
Leaving is hard.
Except for the stupid woman who didn’t like my tears.
I’m glad she left. Hope she gets sick on the boat too.
A preview of the trailer. It is a fantastic movie!