Literally, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I was at the movie theater early yesterday. Early enough that they were just finishing the first batches of popcorn. I could smell it walking in from the parking lot. Other benefits of going to the 10:30 AM showing of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are that you get to feel like a real youngster compared to some of the other movie goers and you get to see trailers for movies you’ve never even heard of before. I am soooo not complaining about things like Avengers: Age of Ultron or Furious 7. I love those. I just like to mix it up sometimes with something like the new Cameron Crowe movie, Aloha.

best-exotic airportThe first The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is sort of like The Breakfast Club with English pensioners instead of Chicago teenagers. Instead of taking place in the 80s, some of the characters are actually in their 80s. It has the same existential angst of the Hughes classic but instead of a jackass assistant principal, there is an over energetic and inexperienced hotelier. The movie is heart-warming and heart-breaking all at once. The easy jokes about oversexed and altogether over-it retirees are balanced by Judi Dench’s search for meaning and Tom Wilkinson’s struggle with his identity. The movie is saturated by the colors of India and the authentic emotional conflicts of each of its characters.

So, is The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel any good? I’ll get to that, but, for me, it was kind of beside the point. When I sunk down into my seat with my ginormous Diet Coke I didn’t really care if the movie was great. I didn’t even need it to be good. It’s been a long winter and spending two hours bathing in the sun of the sub-continent was good thing. I like marking time with Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Maggie Smith. Dev Patel’s Sonny is exuberant and enthusiastic and who doesn’t need more of that in your life?

Turns out, though, it is good. It’s better than good. Okay, so maybe it lives up to its name as the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (those italics all mine) when you compare it to the first. Some of the emotional tension is gone and is replaced with a secret-shopper sub-plot and Richard Gere. But anyone who knows me knows that I like a good hey-gang-let’s-pull-together-and-put-on-a-show show like Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney did in White Christmas. (This is part of why I unabashedly love the CW show Hart of Dixie but we will save my regard for Bluebell, Alabama for another day.) Maggie Smith will break your heart again in all of the best ways. Bill Nighy’s seemingly effortless charm barely masks a winsome loneliness. Throughout it all, though, there is pop music and wedding dancing and painted elephants and marigolds. Lots and lots of marigolds.

If the first movie was like your favorite spicy curry, the second is like naan fresh from the oven or a warm cup of Chai. Both go surprisingly well with the mini-churros and a ginormous Diet Coke from the concession stand.

More Sweaters

I don’t have super powers. I just own more sweaters.

That’s what my friend Marc said one day at lunch. We were all living in Southern California at the time. Our view at lunch was the Pacific Ocean and the Malibu Pier. Occasionally, pods of dolphins would swim by. Another one of our friends, a native Californian had asked Mark how he survived the winters in his native Minnesota. article-2026274-0D71123B00000578-647_468x330To the Californian, Marc might has well have grown up with Superman in his Fortress of Solitude or riding a Tauntaun with Luke Skywalker on the Ice Planet Hoth.

I just own more sweaters.

Today I shoveled my driveway for the second time in two days and the I’ve-lost-count time since January. Yesterday’s snow/ice mix was like a Slush Puppy without the whimsy. Today’s snow was light and fluffy but there was a lot more of it. I would like to say I’ve gotten Zen about the shoveling, the physical labor a spiritual activity like the monks who dig holes only to fill them up again. I would like to say it, but it would be a lie.

But this isn’t a rant about the weather or climate change or how hearing a snow blower across the street while you struggle with last year’s snow shovel can induce white-hot rage. Nope. I may not use clearing the driveway as a mindfulness exercise, but it does give you time to think. Tonight, it was quiet outside as the sun went down. Schools were closed today so the after work traffic was light. The weight of the snow muffled what noise there was and the sun set softly, without fanfare, into the cold night.

I thought of Marc and his sweaters. South Florida is where I call home, even though I’ve lived in places like Philadelphia, Detroit, and now New York. I get the opposite question from Marc. “How can you stand the humidity? It’s so humid in Florida.” I always remind everyone that it is humid and gets a lot hotter in the summer in Philadelphia and New York than it does in Miami and it never does snow. Not ever.

The truth is you just own more flip flops. Or rain coats if you live in Seattle. Or sun hats if you live in Palm Springs. Or sweaters if you live in Minnesota. The ability to adapt and find your place no matter where you are is something I learned early from my mom. We moved a lot and she always made the best of it. She always made sure I had what I needed, whether it was flip flops or sweaters. She was fond of the saying “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” Sure, it’s corny. But I’ve thought of it over and over again during lonely, tear-stained nights.

New York is not an easy place to live, snow or no snow. Today while I watched the news coverage of multi-car pile-ups and a plane that skidded off the icy runway at LaGuardia, my parents were at a golf tournament. I ask myself, a lot, why I don’t move back to Miami. But this is where I’m supposed to be. At least I think it is. So, for now, I just own more sweatshirts.IMG_2294

In case you’re wondering, Marc didn’t go back to Minnesota after we graduated. He stayed in California. I don’t know how many sweaters he owns now.