This past week the Turner Movie Classics showed 84 Charing Cross Road, and my son and I happened on it shortly after it began. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this movie, nor do I ever tire of it. My son, his first time around, was enchanted, as well. The acting is superb (Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, Dame Judi Dench), and the story draws me in like a sponge…and is a true story.
Here’s the gist: Helene Hanff, a writer in New York, pre-WWII, goes in search of hard-to-find volumes by writing to a second-hand bookstore in England—at 84 Charing Cross Road. Frank is the manager of the store and, over twenty years of mail orders and written discourse, he and Helene grow to be very close, that friendship circle including his staff as well. As you watch this movie, you watch this little group of friends through the war and you see the events of their lives unfold through letters back and forth across the Atlantic. And the movie itself is so very stylish. Here's a taste:
If you are looking for spy action and car chases, skip this. But if you want a true, wonderful story with deep character development and a story about the best kind of friendship, you will want to brew some tea and sit down to this movie.
As I sat watching it this time, marveling at the long-distance relationship that developed between the two main characters, I could not help but think of you, my friends in the blogosphere. It was amazing when the next day I visited Willow Manor and found that she had watched the same showing (again) and had been sitting there thinking of blogging as well.
In the case of Helene and Frank, they never met personally. And, yet, they became the closest of friends. Each was dear to the other, and it is a fascinatingprogression of the movie to see that relationship deepen and the longing each had to actually be in the presence of the other. Never realized.
There is one (for me) pivotal scene, where Helene reads from John Donne of our connection with one another
All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and His hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to another.
I believe Willow Manor is right; blogging is the pen pal method of today. It is possible to come to know people with whom you have never had the pleasure of keeping company. And, it’s funny, but after reflecting, I think my blog friends may see my “essence” even more clearly than my nearer friends do. When I write my posts, there is the comfort of an air of anonymity. I am not obsessed with keeping my identity secret, but I do write at large under the pseudonym, “C.” This gives me a little more leash and, I believe, it gives my readers insight into who I really am.
I have thought in the past that blogging is a method of re-inventing myself. On my blog, I can hone the qualities I want to present and just not mention those other irritating parts of me that might be evident to those who sit in the same room. But I have come to think that, rather than re-invention, what I feel when posting is a certain freedom. It’s really “me set free,” rather than a different me.
And this ramble is to say this: I do feel connected with you. I do feel that there are those of you whom I “know” but have never met. There are some of you who, when I read one of your posts, I think, “Yes, that sounds just like ________!” And this about people whom I have never met. Some of you live on the other side of the globe (what a blessing to have that connection!!) and it is not likely I will ever meet you personally. But meet you I have.
The one time I have actually met with a blogger friend, Add Humor and Faith..., she was exactly as V and I had grown to know her. It just bolsters me in my belief that the connection of friendship need not be physical, but can be nurtured long distance. And what a blessing to be able to connect in the way we do on the internet.
Go watch 84 Charing Cross Road. See if it doesn’t remind you of “us!” Blessings to you all. C.