I recently watched the movie Catfish, a documentary about people who meet through the internet. Seems to be the story of our time right? I can honestly say that most of the weddings I attended recently were internet-related. Even if the people did not first meet online, the world-wide-web was an integral part of their relationship. Now, the actual story-line of Catfish is not romantic, although there is romantic “intrigue” involved. I don’t want to reveal too much in case you haven’t yet watched the documentary (watch it – seriously – if you recognize the word Facebook or social network [and let’s be honest – if you’re able to find this blog-post you do] then you will be able to relate), but for me, the movie is truly divulging of two universal truths: 1) People want a connection, and 2) We all have some part of our lives that we’d like to escape.
These are not entirely new concepts. In fact – they’re very old concepts. The more I meet people, the more I realize that many people are traversing some sort of obstacle and that most people feel alone in the midst of that obstacle. Pastor Hank, The Ol’ Great and Powerful Wizard of Coastal Community Church, said in one of his sermons that everyone is either headed into a tragedy, in the midst of a tragedy, or just coming out of a tragedy. True dat Pastor Hank.
As Catfish shows us, most of us would like to escape our “undesirables” and thus our imaginations make the grass greener on the other side of the fence. What we do about this is how many of us diverge from the Catfish documentary. Or at least, this is where I diverge – for I truly stay in my imagination.
I have this recurring fantasy that I am able to “escape.” I see myself in an all white hotel room. The carpets are white, the down comforter is white, the sheets are white, the sheer curtains which are blowing inward from the warm breeze, are white.* I’m laying in the bed, propped up on the very plump pillows, listening to the waves crashing outside (obviously there’s a beach nearby or a very good sound machine). I’m in a distant and unknown location. I am worry free. I am guilt free. I am pain free. I am at peace.
And this is as far as my fantasy gets, for I am no longer ten-years-old and my fantasies are no longer independent of my realities. At this point in the daydream I begin to realize that in order to be in this hotel I need money and I do not have any of my own because I am chronically ill and cannot work. I am dependent on my husband for income so if I use my credit card to book the hotel, he can not only trace me, so my “unknown location” becomes very known, but I am also adding to the financial burden that he carries being married to me- so my desire to escape being a burden is certainly failed. I realize that I still need medical care and traipsing off to a tropical destination unknown is not the wisest plan because they probably don’t have the best medical care. Even if I do find the doctors, specialists, and surgeons that I need, I’ll have to have contact with the main land in order to have my records sent, and the whole process will be a stressor. Plus, I need my husband’s insurance for any care that I am going to receive. And what am I going to do with my days? Just getting to a white hotel room on a tropical island does not make my health-limitations disappear. Am I going to stay in the hotel room all day? What’s the difference of being in pain in the hotel room and being in pain in my own bed? The fact that I am burden, the reminder of my dependency, and the inability to escape my health limitations brings any semblance of a care-free-blissful feeling that this fantasy provides crashing to a halt.
Most of us feel alone. Most of us would like a connection. Most of us have crap to deal with. Most of us would like to escape. My question is: Who’s truly to blame in the Catfish saga? Why did Nev have to seek the truth? Was Angela the true instigator of the hurt in the film, or was it Nev for closing Angela’s escape hatch? I leave these questions in the void – for if I cannot leave my fantasy in the chasm of unexamined bliss, at least I can leave these questions there – uninfringed from the reality of their answers.
* It is strange that my blissful place is all white as I generally despise things all white; they remind me too much of hospitals. When we bought our house every wall was beige and I referred to it in disdain as the “beige hospital.” However, there is a scene in The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood that my imagination might be referencing, in which the mother escapes to a similar hotel. Although I can’t condone all of the mother’s actions in the movie, I can relate to her desire to escape her own life.
- What is it that we want to escape? Understanding Chronic Illness: Spoon!
- Tv to distract and decompress: Escaping Reality with “Reality”
- A fun game to distract from the pain: A Zombie-Fighting Military
- Catfish, Restrepo documentaries becoming reality series (realityblurred.com)
- ‘Catfish’: What You Didn’t See in Theaters (abcnews.go.com)
- Film wasn’t the first industry to tackle this topic: The Escape Artists – a Separate Peace Literary Analysis (socyberty.com)