About twenty-three years ago, I created my first personal email account. It was an account that I shared with my best friend. It was also an account that saw a lot of emails go back and forth with “pen pals”, people we did not know. There were no smartphones, no way to scan and send pictures. We conjured up images of the other person based on words. If and when we did meet in person, the dissonance was so much that it was embarrassing.
I have always loved words and quoting things that appealed to me. I love crafting smart responses. I take time typing in subjects in emails. There was once a time I found someone who was just as intriguing, perhaps more, in his choice of email subjects and witty comebacks. I remember the heady rush of waiting for the email and the pleasure of savoring the contents and then the high I would get crafting a response.
Last night I watched “the half of it” on Netflix. It is a teen coming of the age drama set in a rural all-white imaginary town in Washington. It features one immigrant and, one white-passing immigrant in its cast of characters. It features quotes. It has thoughtful text(s) back and forth. It has smoldering looks and a tension I easily identify with. It has friendship. It has love. It has heartbreak. Most of all, it has heart.
This story is all about nuance. It is about belonging. It is about searching for the half to complete you. It is about being seen. The animation at the beginning is haunting. This is a movie you watch once and then you watch again to connect all the dots, delve for hidden gems and jump with pleasure at hidden easter eggs.
I saw this movie a week after I saw Never Have I Ever and the difference cannot be more jarring. If Never Have I Ever was in your face, loud, larger than life and provocative, the half of it is a slow, meandering, beautiful art. Both made me pause. Both gave me lots to think about. Both experiences had me wondering about representation and diversity.
Only one though is a film I will long to go back and watch, to savor and fall deep into the recesses of my memories for a time that seemed to be full of possibility.