I love fall. I mean, of course I love the summer because I’m a Jeep owner who wishes she were a mermaid, and I love the winter because Christmas, and I love spring because back to Jeep owner, but I think fall is my solid favorite.
Especially days like today. Here in my little corner of North Carolina, the sky is overcast, the air feels a little misty, and it’s cool but not cold. I know that most basic white girls like myself rave about pumpkin spice and s’mores and hoodies and black leggings and Ugg boots, and I definitely check all those boxes. (Except for hoodies. They make me claustrophobic). But on days like today, the reason I love fall is movies.
When I was in ninth grade, my parents decided I should homeschool. I was totally fine with it, because I had been begging to try it for basically my whole life. Anyway, every morning I had to get up at the same time as my brother who was still in public school at the time, take a shower, and get started on my work. My dad was adamant that homeschool would not equal lazy, so that was the deal.
Usually I would sit on the couch and start my work from a series of booklets that my parents probably paid an arm and a leg for, and then I would work for about 2 hours. That’s usually all the time I needed to get done with my assignments for the day. Then me and my mom would watch 2 hours of ER (the George Clooney one). Then we would eat chicken quesadillas (which mom pronounced quesa-deal-yas) or taco salads or something else my dad hated since he was at work and didn’t have to eat it. Then we would start laundry or whatever chores we had for the day, and then on the very best days, we would turn on movies in the afternoon and pile up on the couch with snacks and blankets.
So now, as soon as there’s a chill in the air, I get the urge to watch these movies:
1- The American President
This is the one I’m watching today. I told you already that I was a nerd, and I was reading the Madeleine Albright memoir, Madam Secretary. Also, just like the rest of you, I keep getting intrusive text messages on my phone and seeing huge banners on every social media platform reminding me to register to vote since, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a presidential election this year. So between the memoir, the text messages, and the chill in the air, I was compelled on a molecular level to watch this movie. Michael Douglas. Annette Benning, Michael J. Fox, Martin Sheen. So many things to love.
I could probably quote everything in it nearly verbatim, only no one would know what I was talking about because I’m pretty sure my mom and I were the only ones who were obsessed with this movie. It’s the American equivalent of a fairy tale, only with a strong female lead instead of someone who feels the need to sing and clean all the time while waiting to be rescued. It’s also possible that the only things I know about politics are what I learned in this movie. Judge me if you must, but I like to avoid conflict, and lately politics=conflict. But this movie=joy. I love it desperately and it makes me feel like my mom is here.
2- You’ve Got Mail
This one was a little later in my childhood, but it quickly became one of our top 5. One of the first e-mails between Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks says, “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” I remember thinking that this perfectly captured how I felt about late August and early September. I love the idea of the adversaries becoming true love. And the idea of modern letter writing. I realize Nora Ephron isn’t the equivalent of Rainer Maria Rilke and e-mails in a chat room aren’t the same as handwritten letters, but there’s such romance in seeing people actually get to know each other before they meet and jump right in to some physical, shallow relationship. It just feels like fall.
To this day, my husband loathes this movie. But I remember watching it from the time I was probably 6 years old with mom, dad, and my cousin, Queens, and we laughed the whole time, regardless of the fact that the movie was older than I was and we had watched it at least 5 times each year. Several months ago we got together at Queens house and watched it. My mom didn’t love this one because she thought some of the humor was stupid, but she watched it because we all loved it, and she routinely quoted Mrs. White. And if you are ever around me, my mom, my dad, my brother, or my sister, and you say “To make a long story short,” we may smile and nod politely, but in our minds we’re shouting, “Too late!”
There are many others. Plus TV shows and specials (Gilmore Girls and Charlie Brown were our two favorites), but these are the ones I remember best. So while you’re sitting at home in your leggings and hoodie, sipping your pumpkin spice latte while eating s’mores in front of a crackling fire, give one of these movies a try. And when you’re done, read Madam Secretary. It’s way more fun than watching these political ads. Trust me.