Popcorn, Bosom Friends, and Solemn Vows

List of U.S. state foods

List of U.S. state foods (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you were floating around Twitter for the bulk of last night, you may have seen some odd things. For instance, a single tweet that just said “Prawns.”

Anne of Green Gables, Anne Shirley, Diana Barry

Anne and Diana after the concert at White Sands.

Or a hashtag #bosomfiend.

These things came about because my friend Kristin McFarland (who, on a much more serious note, interviewed me on Wednesday for her Why Write project) and I have been reading through the Anne of Green Gables books. She came across them between undergrad and grad school; I found Anne when my grandmother gave me the Canadian films when I was a kid. I somehow made it to adulthood having never read the books, but I can’t say that anymore.

Kristin got me to read the books, so I thought it was only fair I get her to see the movies.

Last night we settled in, three states apart, to watch them.

Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert Blythe in Anne of ...

Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We sighed over Gilbert Blythe, tried to hug Matthew Cuthbert through the screen, and fell in love with that little redhead all over again.

It made me wonder how a rather simple story about an orphan girl finding family and love could affect me as much as it did when I was a kid. I remember seeing Anne shriek at Rachel Lynde and calling her fat and wishing I had the guts to stand up to the people who were mean to me. I remember seeing her break a slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head and knowing that I was learning to take no shit.

Anne rapturously declares to Marilla that she wishes to have a bosom friend, and Marilla chuckles, “A what kind of friend?” But Anne finds in Diana Barry the truest kind of friendship most of us only hope to share with another person.

If you’re truly curious about the public side of our screening for these films, check out the Twitter hashtags #solemnvow and #bosomfriends.

We even made our own solemn vow.

We even made our own solemn vow.

As we were watching, I got to thinking. It’s always a bit funny to watch something you loved as a child with an adult perspective. Some things you’ll watch and wonder where you ever got the idea that it was a good use of your time. Other times, you’re struck by the layers of meaning, the hidden purpose, and the power that remains, turning memory to new discovery.

Anne_and_gilbert_3

Anne and Gilbert at school, image from Anne of Green Gables

That’s how it’s been with me for Anne of Green Gables.

Reading the books was like diving into a richer world, learning and growing alongside Anne. There were new characters to meet who I could tell had been distilled and shifted, combined and compressed into characters in the film. There were familiar moments of fear and trepidation and love.

Watching the films as a child, I don’t think I ever quite understood the fullness of what happened when Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert decided to keep Anne Shirley even though they’d sent for a boy.

As a child, I just wanted Anne to be able to stay at Green Gables because she loved the place so. She seemed so self-sufficient to me that I never questioned her ability to survive elsewhere. Through the years, though, and now having read the books as an adult, that moment is something more altogether.

English: The “Anne of Green Gables Bridge” on ...

English: The “Anne of Green Gables Bridge” on the EICanada headquarters property in Stouffville, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She arrives at Green Gables with more adult experiences than a child should have. Caretaking, housekeeping, even medicinal knowledge. She’s capable, intelligent, independent. She’s a dreamy little kid, who escaped the harsh reality around her by fleeing into the boundless wealth of imagination.

More and more, when I relive this story, I see myself. Just like Anne, I fled poverty and chores and cruelty at school and the stress of many, many moves by fleeing into my imagination. Into countless books and worlds. When something didn’t exist, like Anne, I made it up. And I yearned for a bosom friend, just as she did.

Anne greeted the world with a sense of awe and wonder, allowing it to thrill her in a way most people don’t. She showed Marilla and Matthew that in spite of her misfortunes, the world was still a beautiful place. And when she arrived, they knew that sending her back could end up breaking her, snuffing out that light that she allowed to shine so brightly.

They made the decision to take that child and give her love. To give her love and family and an education and an opportunity. An elderly pair of unmarried siblings wanted to give Anne Shirley more scope for her imagination.

And oh, the love.

Anne Shirley is a veritable magnet for it. She wins Matthew over the first time she speaks to him. And Marilla the first time Anne tucks her trusting hand into that of the older woman’s. She dazzles Gilbert with her resolve, her perseverance, and her intelligence. And, of course, there’s Diana, Anne’s bosom friend.

Matthew Cuthbert, Marilla Cuthbert, Anne of Green Gables, Anne Shirley, Lucy Maud Montgomery

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert

When I think about the love this child found, it’s made even more poignant fully understanding from an adult perspective what exactly Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert did for her. It reminds me that it’s what I got from my second mom and later, my stepdad. The ability of an adult to raise a strange child as his or her own. I benefited from that kind of love as well. And like Anne, I’ve continually reaped the blessings of love in this life. From finding Jordan and Julia (MY first real bosom friends, who walked me down the aisle) to my loving husband, who is a true partner in life.

Kristin and I spent several hours last night watching these films a couple hundred miles apart from her. At one point, we were discussing another film we both love and Capclave (which she is joining me for), and Kristin said, “Plus, we’ll have known each other for like two years by then and NO MEETING. It’s outrageous.” And it’s true. We’ve been chatting on almost a daily basis for a year and a half. We watched Anne and Diana skip about the beaches of Prince Edward Island, and that struck me all over again. Technology has made it possible to form friendships with people hundreds or thousands of miles away. We’ve done Google hangouts and talked on the phone. We’ve “introduced” our husbands via video and shown each other our critters.

For all our rather goofy tweets about Miss Fortune and bosom fiends  last night, we really are friends.

This world still holds wonder.

The best thing about watching something like Anne of Green Gables with someone who loves the story as much as you do is that it’s a nice reminder to be grateful.

I’ll be damned if that Anne Girl didn’t work her magic again.

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About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on April 26, 2013, in Film Reviews, Friday Funsies, life intervention and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Love this, Emmie. One of my favorite characters in all of literature. Plucky, literary and loving – doesn’t get any better than that. I still use “bosom friends” as a term. Well done.

  2. I didn’t have the pleasure of reading the books or seeing the series as a child, but ADORED watching the series as an adult. I SO love Anne! This inspires me to both watch the series again AND read the books…as well as save both for when my girl Sofia can enjoy them.

    • Definitely! I hope someday they release the films for Blu-Ray or in digital copy. I want to make sure I never lose them. Sometime this year I’ll be buying the full set of books.

  3. I’m tearing up, here. I need to read those books again!

    It’s wonderful that you’ve found your bosom friend. 🙂

  4. Kristin McFarland

    This is my favoritest blog post EVER. (Solemn vow.)

  5. Our grade 4 teacher read Anne of Green Gables to us in class, and when I saw the TV adaptation on CBC I had a HUGE crush on Meghan Follows for years…
    I know this is not really germane to your post except to say I loved this story as a child, and was surprised to learn as an adult how hard L.M. Montgomery had to work to keep making an income from her writing and fight for her creator’s rights. Amazing woman, who created this great character.
    Sorry for the repost — I meant to comment with my WordPress ID!

    • If I can have a crush on Jonathan Crombie, you can certainly have a crush on Megan Follows. 😀

      Love this whole story, and yeah — the books are out of copyright, I think. You can buy most of them as a collection on Kindle for $0.99, which is insane. No idea who manages her estate.

      No worries about the repost — I deleted the other!

  6. I can not love this enough. I read the books and watched the movies (numerous times) as a child. I related to Anne in so many ways.

    I saw your tweets the other night about finding a bosom friend and I wanted to jump in and hug you both. Something about hearing that phrase just made me giddy.

  7. Eleni Sakellis

    Great post! Anne is a classic, love the books and the movies, thanks for the reminder Emmie 🙂

  8. I love Anne of Green Gables!

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