So, it's sad but true...a lot of us gals have suffered through a divorce. And while my blog is not solely focused on life after divorce, my second life, as I like to call it, has played a large part in what I write. I was trying to be supportive of a friend, and as I corroborated with her divorce, dating, and general "What If" anxieties, I thought this list needed to be shared. Sometimes, diamonds are a girl's best friend. But what happens when you've taken off that diamond and you're trying to move forward into an uncertain, sometimes scary future? We all need a little bit of hope and inspiration in those moments. Some people read Self Help books, and others turn to a therapist. I've always had a different breed of self-soothing: the movies. Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fond of, okay more like obsessed with, movies. I look to them for the ideals that I create about what life should be. And while those ideals are often, pardon my French, "shot to Hades" by reality, it's still nice to have them lingering nearby. They provide a glimpse at what life could be, and sometimes that's just enough to keep a gal going.
The Top Ten Movies to Inspire the Divorced Gal, or as I like to call it, The Second Life Gal:
10) Only You-This quirky Rom-Com is set in Pittsburgh (Love it) and Venice (Sort of love it), along with other parts of Italy. It does way more to romanticize travel than love, for sure. It's the story of Faith, a girl who gets the name of her would-be future mate off of a Ouija board at age 11. Faith grows up, accepts reality, and gets engaged to a very sensible fiancee...until one day a man with the magic name surfaces. This film really creates a magical love story that would win over any cynic. And a mid-90s Robert Downey Jr. doesn't hurt this one!
9) He's Just Not That Into You- An ensemble comedy of a lot of big-name actors (HOT! Bradley Cooper) and actresses trying to fall in and out of love. This takes a realistic approach to relationships, and leaves you with some simple advice to apply to future dating ventures. If he's into you, he'll call you!
8) Eat, Pray, Love-While I could rave about the book for days, the movie is not as a great! But it does make the list because Julia Roberts is fantastic as Liz, a divorcee traveling the world looking for her true self. Great cinematography and funny one-liners, but read the book first!
7) Broken English-I watch this only under specific circumstances: a) I want to drink wine b) I am already a little depressed. It's definitely an "indie" movie, and there are a lot of awkward silences. But there's just something about it...I mean, I did buy it on DVD. Parker Posey (awesomeness) is Nora, a thirty-something single girl whose desperation, anxiety, and self-doubt transcend the fictional story and delve a little too deeply into real single girl woes. It takes a romantic turn when Nora falls for a French hottie with whom she has a very French affair...in New York.
6) Sweet Home Alabama-I'm not sure why this is on my list. Maybe because it oozes with sweet, Southern goodness from beginning to end. While the story line is highly unlikely for most divorced girls (getting back with your hot ex-Who would have dumped Jake in the first place?), it is a flick that always gets my mind off of any sadness and reminds me to stick to my guns.
5) Legally Blonde-Another awesome divorce movie, for sure. Jilted bimbo-turned-lawyer Elle definitely plays the "I Win" game with her ex (Pooh Bear!) and shows him what he is missing. The scene in which Elle and her BFF nail tech Paulette visit a trailer to retrieve Paulette's dog is priceless!
4) Sex and the City: The Movie-Talk about girlfriends picking you up after you've fallen!! While parts of this are tough to stomach, especially if you were a fan of Steve and Miranda, I think that the movie took these four ladies whom we so love from the TV series to new heights. A little too honest and realistic at times, it does remind us that our friends are always there when we need them.
3) Elf-This will definitely get your mind off of anything that might be troubling you, because it's hilarious, Christmasy, and whimsical. The date scene with Jovie and Buddy is definitely worth the viewing. Sometimes I watch that scene only and then turn it off!! That date, with the world's "best" cup of coffee and the skipping, is everything I know exists and everything I want from my other half. This movie reminds me that silly, irrational, ridiculous love does exist!
2) Mermaids-Great chick flick. It's a mother and her two daughters trying to figure out their relationships with themselves, each other, and the men who fall for them. Winona Ryder's character Charlotte is so quirky, over zealous, and zany that it's hard not to laugh. Her narration throughout the movie reminds us all of how ridiculous our teenage ideas were! What I always liked about this movie was the scene when Cher (Ryder's on-screen mom) is sitting in the bath tub and she pulls out a map, closes her eyes, and points to a spot. The family moves there the next week. I always thought that freedom like that didn't exist. When you start your second life, you realize that, while you definitely would not have chosen this route, it's all about the ride. You can go anywhere and do anything you truly desire!
1) Under the Tuscan Sun-This movie is number one because it really embodies the divorce experience. The denial, the sorrow, the anger, the fear, the irrational and sometimes questionable decision making in those first few weeks after you've uncoupled...this film has it all. It's based on a book by Francis Mayes about her real-life experiences in Tuscany. I always loved the scene in which Francis is sitting at a restaurant with her best friend Patty, and a chocolate cake with the word "Freedom" is delivered. Patty and her partner offer for Francis to take over their "Gay and Away" tickets to Tuscany...and thus the rest of Francis' crazy, wild adventure ensues. That moment in the movie really reminds me that all of us who have walked in divorced girl shoes need a little push, a lot of love, and a chance to jump blindly into what the future holds, no matter how crazy it may seem to others. Francis never thought she'd be starting her life over, but she finds herself in that position, nonetheless. Patty encourages her saying, "Have you ever come across one of those empty shell people? You wondered what happened to them. At some point in each of those lives, they came to a crossroads."
Sometimes it takes a year to gather your thoughts, your feelings, and yourself and move on. Sometimes it takes a month, a week, a day. And sometimes, it takes a movie.