An Incidental Tourist

I’ve watched thousands of movies over the years, but I’ve never considered myself a fan so much as a student. I don’t gush over movie stars, though I have paid attention to how they act, the way they deliver their lines, and the characters they play. I’ve never felt any desire to see places where movies were filmed, such as the field from The Field of Dreams. (In truth, I don’t understand the attraction. The field in Iowa is not a magical field as it was portrayed in the movie. It is simply a prosaic place where the magic of filmmaking once happened.)

Still, quite incidentally during my travels the past couple of years, I’ve seen several places made famous by movies: Monument Valley, Ridgeway (where much of True Grit was filmed), the LaBrea tarpits, Bagdad Cafe, the house where Sam Baldwin lived in Sleepless in Seattle, and the Bradbury Building. I’m sure I’ve passed by dozens of other film-famous settings without being aware of their significance, so it’s amazing to me that I recognized as many places as I did.

One of the hardest things about having lost to death the person connecting me to life is that when I see such places, I can’t tell him what I have seen. He was the one I watched all those movies with, and he would have appreciated seeing those settings way more than I did. The irony is that when he was alive, we couldn’t travel due to his health, so it’s only his death that has brought the world to me (or do I mean me to the world?).

One movie he enjoyed was Wolf, and he was especially taken with the office building where Will Randall worked.  On a recent excursion to downtown LA, I stopped in to see the Bradbury Building, which had been described as an architectural marvel, and there it was — the office building from Wolf.

I thought I’ve been keeping a scrapbook of my excursions to prove to myself that I am real, but the other day it struck me that I’m really keeping it for him — my deceased mate. I can’t tell him in person what I’ve been doing (as I always did), so the photos are a way of sharing my experiences in abstentia. He would have loved seeing the Bradbury Building — it’s even more incredible than in the movie — light-filled, soaring ceilings, ornate iron grillwork, marble stairs, and cage elevators — so I marveled in his stead.

(If you don’t know the name of the building, I’m sure you still recognize it. The place has been featured in many television series, music videos, and movies, most notably, Blade Runner, Chinatown, Murphy’s Law, Lethal Weapon 4, and of course, Wolf.)

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5 Responses to “An Incidental Tourist”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I like to imagine that one of the things you do after you die, before you go on to the next phase (whatever that may be) is to do a little globe-trotting to all the places you never saw before while alive. Perhaps your soul-mate’s soul did visit the Bradbury Building, and maybe around the same time as you did.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      What a cool idea! It would be a shame to leave this earth with so many wonderful sites and sights unseen.

      Even if he wasn’t there in actuality, he was there in memory. He always liked Christmas lights, so every Christmas eve, I take my memory of him for a walk around the neighborhood to see the decorations. Kind of silly, but it makes me feel good.

      • rami ungar the writer Says:

        it’s not silly at all. i think there are a few cultures around the globe that have similar beliefs involving their dearly departed actually. you’d probably be accepted right into them if you told them what you do around Christmas.

  2. Liz Houlton Schofield Says:

    Unable to enjoy a social life outside the home for the last twenty years, I love watching movies.I am very selective about what I watch, genres often matching my mood, and I often have a movie on while I work at my writing.
    My profoundly autistic daughter moved in to her own home in April, at the age of 21. This summer has been all about the outdoors for me, but I look forward to cosying up with a Clint Eastwood directed film, Miller’s Crossing, The Usual Suspects or anything with amazing costumes or sets in the cold, damp winter here in BC.


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