About a year ago my family and I went to see an animated movie called “Inside Out”. Now usually I am not a big fan of the animated stuff on the big screen, especially if you have to see it in iMax and wear the paper 3D glasses to watch it. Yeah, see that is the road to vomitville for me anymore so I tend to shy away. Last time we were at Universal Studios Hollywood I didn’t want to be the old lady Mom, so I rode ‘The Simpson’s’ and ‘The Minions’, both iMax and wearing the plastic glasses with my kids. I am telling you, if I end up in hell, it will be with Homer Simpson spinning in 3D with the Minions choir singing the banana song while I am stuck in those glasses, nauseous and trying not to hurl. But, as usual, I digress. As for animated movies, like most folks, if it is by Disney or Pixar and it peaks my interest, we will go see it. I had heard good things about Inside Out so we saw it, and I loved it and have seen it many times since. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth your time and money.
One afternoon a month or so later, while with my kids enjoying the fall sunshine, everyone’s nose in their phone, I came across a Facebook quiz asking “Which Inside Out Character Are You?” Naturally, I had to make everyone take it including me. We laughed as my teenage, angst ridden daughter came up as Disgust, and my brooding 22 year old son popped up as Anger, and my bubbly sister as Joy. Finally I took the test and I came up as…Bing Bong. Bing Bong is the Imaginary Friend found in the recesses of the main character’s mind. An obnoxious pink elephant that served as a happy, silly, yet invisible friend at a very young age. Well of course, wild hilarity ensued. I admit, even I was laughing right along with everyone else. Mostly because, well, it was damn funny. We laughed until my kids were holding their sides and my sister and I were crying and it was the running joke for the rest of the day…hell, it is still a running joke and it is pretty funny.
But later that night, after everyone had gone home and my kids were in bed, I thought about Bing Bong. Now, I take a lot of those quizzes on Facebook and I know that my Hippie Name is not necessarily Jagged Star, mostly because I am not a hippie, and my Spirit Animal is probably not the Blue Dolphin , logically, since I am not a Native American (my sister’s was the Sea Cow…LOL). I take them for fun along with the majority, I hope. But this one kind of started to get to me. It was not quite a year ago, November 2015, about 2 months after I had lost my job for a second time. I had spent 28 years at this company and was used to seeing many people I considered my friends, at work, every single day, doing business, traveling, socializing etc. Last year I spent most everyday alone, looking for work, trying to make connections and holding everything together financially and otherwise at home.
My friends from work had long stopped calling or emailing to check in on me, not because they didn’t care, but because they were busy at work and at home themselves. Maybe I was becoming like Bing Bong, and so were they, like imaginary friends. I mean, I still existed and they still existed, and surely I could reach back to them anytime I wanted and contact them as they could me. I did reach out and many friends did respond, and some did not. I know those people are still there and I shared real experiences that were happy, fun and even silly. Yet in my alone-ness I wondered, am I becoming Bing Bong to those people I thought I would have lasting friendships with? Am I Bing Bong to those friends I think I have close relationships with but don’t see or talk to anymore on a regular basis? Am I just an imaginary friend that served as a fun, happy and silly co-worker for a time? Am I just a memory? Well, the answer to that is yes and no and, more importantly, it is up to me, isn’t it.
So first of all, yes, sometimes I feel like the imaginary, forgotten friend/co-worker and to some, I probably am. Poor, pitiful me. And that is enough of that. And, yes, I was, and still am a happy, fun and silly friend that shares great memories with many, many wonderful friends that I still hear from and see and many that I don’t. But the fact remains, we have that memory that we share together and we get to have it for.ever. God willing, I choose to remember those good times because they are actually ties that bind us together for the ages. These experiences are not imagined, they are valuable and precious memories not easily forgotten. I have tried, to forget, that is. The hurtful ones. But I can’t. Not the wonderful memories, nor the hurtful ones either. Not yet anyway. It would hurt less if I could in some cases. But I think it is our mind’s way of protecting us while we are still vulnerable. It is that little voice that whispers to you “remember the minions ride” before you buy a ticket to the next iMax in 3D animation movie. And you go see Finding Dory on the regular old screen instead, and there is no nausea or vomiting, just enjoying and remembering.
Speaking of Inside Out, my favorite emotion is laughter. Specifically laughing so hard you cry at the same time. I love it. If you can, think about the last time you laughed so hard you cried at the same time. What was it over, who were you with, where were you? Was it something occurring right at that moment? Or was it the re-telling of a previous experience? A memory. Take a beat, remember it as clearly as possible. I hope you are smiling or even laughing to yourself. It is a memory now. A treasure. Keep it close and at the ready, for when you need it. Even better, collect more, new ones! Reach out, make time. Experiences like these are fleeting, but the memories stay with you for ever. Even if you tragically lose them for a time, God will give them back to you. I believe that. I have to believe that. I know that I can sit with my Dad, who is ailing from fairly severe dementia, and recall a hilarious story from my childhood and have him laughing and crying at the same time. I doesn’t matter if he really remembers, we just made a new and precious memory and we will take it.
So maybe I am Bing Bong. That is okay. Friends are important to Bing Bong and family, friends and relationships are important to me. The Facebook quiz told me that there aren’t many friends and people like me and Bing Bong in the world anymore. People that truly want those around them to be happy and well. Like I said I don’t live or die by what a quiz on Facebook tells me, but this time I think it hit the mark. So Bing Bong it is.
Now, just for the record, my aura is Blue, the natural wonder I am like is a Cyclone, the movie character I am most like is Princess Leia, the Toy Story character I am most like is Mrs. Potato Head (don’t get me started), the car that best suits me is a Land Rover and the word that best describes me is:
STRONG…I kid you not. ps. Strong is my maiden name.