The Thing with Dark Ponds

Photo by Xuan Nguyen on Unsplash

“People are like that, too, you know. They start over. They find a way.”

Celeste Ng

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I am not going to lie– I can be an annoying person to watch something with. I dislike things that resemble the harshness of our reality. Don’t sit me down to watch some war film when there is an actual war happening out there (if I wanted to see a war, I would turn on the news). It is not my jam. I am a rom-com type girl. Give me a funny protagonist in some faked-up version of NYC with an unrealistic wardrobe, and I am there.

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My movie and show preferences have come to my attention extra when my fiancé and I sit down to choose something to watch. He likes a good drama, and the movies I like aren’t always his jam. By now, I have watched a good handful of movies I would have never chosen on my own to watch. (And he has watched two handfuls of movies he likely would have never watched had I not picked them). Many of his picks are good and interesting; worth the risk and time. I have been pleasantly surprised. But when it’s choosing time, I can be picky.

Recently, I got to pick Pilgrim’s Progress as one of our films. It’s a beautiful film (in my opinion). Today, after a hearty meal, we were deciding what to watch to relax since neither of us has time to watch anything during the week, and he mentioned a newish show. It looked like a drama (with great actresses), and I pushed back. Eventually, at an impasse as he still refuses to watch White Chicks (LOL), we settled on The Office, a safe mutual favorite.

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I reflected, though, and realized I wasn’t fair in my assessment of the new series. I hadn’t watched a minute of it, and he had watched a favorite of mine, so I decided to give it a shot. Guys, all my trigger fears were realized immediately. In the first 20 minutes, I kid you not, I saw a piece of my past unfold as we were watching. I saw the houses on the show looked exactly like houses from an Ohio neighborhood where I lived for several years. The mom and daughter are close, and the mom is a single parent. The show opens where the mom and daughter are sleeping in their car, and then, they go to a public restroom at the grocery store where they proceed to take a refresher bath with wipes and brush their teeth. The protagonists have moved a million times. I have shared all of these experiences with my own mother. As I watched on the screen so many things I have lived before, I was stunned. It was triggering. So much so, that tears sprang to my eyes without warning, and to cover up my emotional reaction, I laughed. (Not a normal laugh, but like a nervous crazy laugh– I am being honest here).

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I still can’t really believe I have seen scenes of my life sort of play out in front of me on some random Hulu show. (It’s fresh, y’all). But I learned something important today, I’ve been repelled by and shut out many things that made me feel like I might be reminded of something or because I am afraid certain emotions will be summoned from some dark recess of my soul. Today, it was like that fear came true– and pretty dramatically. It was bizarre.

What we watched was interesting and intriguing. Maybe we will watch another episode some other time, or maybe not. What I did find interesting was that on the day I finally decided to give something a chance, it ended up being some weird recounting of maybe some of the most strange and unrelatable moments of my life. It was almost too on point (to the point of being creepy). Creepy and all, I survived it. The tears came spilling out in a weird reactive moment of realization, but I was able to then sit back and detach from it. Part of me has felt like, This is why I don’t watch dramas or things like this. Another part of me felt less alone. Seen, almost.

It intrigues me to think that maybe the things that have the biggest potential as art are the things that make us feel deeply. They make us shifty in our seats and make us laugh and look away as we discretely wipe away tears. We all, in our own little ways, avoid the things that make us uncomfortable.

We avoid dark pond waters, sometimes, as we don’t know how deep the pond actually goes. At times, we don’t want to know. We pick the clearer light distractions, but these distractions, like clear water, reveal a shallow bottom. Sometimes, in our quest to avoid pain, we forget that it’s when we look into the dark pond waters that we can catch a glimpse of our own reflection and see ourselves.

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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