I must have been around nine years old when I first watched The Shawshank Redemption. My buddy (I guess he was more like a bully) and I went down to my basement and into the movie closet. There my buddy found a VHS copy of The Shawshank Redemption and told me how it was his dad’s favorite movie. It was rated R so naturally I was curious about it and one afternoon when my parents were upstairs, I popped it in. I was excepting to see things that a child shouldn’t see (and I did but my young mind couldn’t comprehend them) but what I got was a story of two friends. I’ll never forget how I felt at the end when Red and Andy meet on the beach. It was and will always be the most happy and heartbreaking moment of film that I have ever seen. To see two friends reunite, to see two friends beat against the tide for each other was almost too much for my young heart. I cried like a baby because for two hours they had become my two friends. They had become my source of hope and even if they had made it, I was still just a young boy hoping to find love like that. A connection that goes beyond words or common likes, a friendship that redeems the other. I have found this in my family but I know that each person must make their own family, their own connections on top of the ones they know. I guess at that moment I was always waiting for my Andy to guide me home, to a companionship lost at sea.
I also remember being a teenager lost in the idea of growing up. Life was so complicated when I was younger and I sort of got lost in all of the pre-teen way of life. I had to deal with the constant struggle to maintain a social status and with my social anxiety, I shut almost everyone out. I was too scared to put myself out there in the fear of getting rejected so I spent most of my weekends in my room hoping for an easier way to reach out to people. It was during this time that the first Lord of the Rings film, The Fellowship of The Ring, came out and one Christmas Eve I went to go see it. I loved the fantasy story and the consent action at my young age but what really got me was Sam and Frodo. Two little people facing impossibility and how Samwise Gamgee never gave up on Frodo. It was a type of devotion that was very overwhelming for me. I remember playing imaginary Lord of the Rings and even made up my own stories in my head with people from my life but no matter what, I was always Sam. I was always the loyal friend that would do what ever he could to protect his master. I proceeded to read the books and got lost in those far more than the movies but it was the Fellowship of the Ring that first introduced me to Sam. The faithful and loving character that is the heart of the Lord of the Rings tale. Samwsie Gamgee became more than just a character to me, he became a creed. He became the person I hoped to see in myself one day and the person that I would hopefully see walk into my life. But I always wondered if fiction could ever translate to real life, if somebody could be as real to me as Sam felt.
Girls scarred the crap out of me when I was in high school and college. My social anxiety seemed to hit an all time high when I was forced to interact with one. Didn’t matter what they looked like, it was just that I couldn’t seemed to talk to them. But since I was young I had always dreamed of that girl that would come along. That girl I would fall in love with and marry. The girl I would find happiness with. It was frustrating to see my friends have relationships and find connections with girls when I felt like I could not. It was almost as if my inability to speak to one was going to cause me to miss my chance with the girl I had been waiting for. I had some really lonely days when I didn’t think I would ever find somebody and it was during this time that I turned to a film about a man who was just desperate for somebody to love. (500) Days of Summer was the story of Tom and his relationship with a girl named Summer. It was a story of a relationship that didn’t work out and the emotional turmoil of Tom as he tried to make sense of if love and companionship was something he would ever find. As cheesy as it sounds, I felt the same way too. I watched that movie a million times to keep me going. I watched it to hope again that life can work out sometimes and all that you have ever wanted can suddenly appear. I remember watching that film with my friend and groomsmen Tyler who too had a strong longing to find somebody out there for him. I remember sitting on our balcony and saying too him “one day we are going to be at our weddings and we will look back at all this and laugh because finally, Autumn has come.”
During my Sophomore year of College I was walking down the campus of Missouri Street with my friend, Ronnie, when a girl came up to him. She was beautiful and instantly caught my eye. I asked him “Ronnie, who is that girl?” and he told me her name was Kelsey and she was a friend of the Sugar Bear that everyone in my fraternity was after. I saw her at almost every fraternity party that I went too but I could never muster up the courage to talk to her. She even road in my car once and I still couldn’t find one ounce of courage to say anything. I saw Kelsey a year before I ever talked to her and I don’t know why I never let her go, why I never just gave up due to my own weakness to take a chance but I didn’t. During the beginning of my Junior year I told one of my buddies, who was a mutual friend of hers, that I thought she was cute. He lied to me and told me she had seen me around and that she thought I was cute as well. Without that lie I would not be writing this today. I would probably be on a path without her, which is something I don’t want to think about. Finally I talked to her and from there everything sort of fell into place. From our first date where we sat on opposite coaches while watching The Shawshank Redemption to the first moment I knew I loved her as she played with my two nieces. For these past two and half years I rarely had time to think of the movies that I watched in her absence as she became the biggest part of my life.
So today is my wedding day and it’s sort of surreal. For a Ted like guy, this day always felt like it would never come. Hope always kept me going but I could never imagine what that girl would be like. Now I know and she is everything I could of ever wanted. From her sweet smile to the way she makes me feel like a better person each day, she is a dream come true. A dream of friend, a dream of a future, a dream of an Andy, a Samwise, and an Autumn. The movies have always been my gateway to something out side myself but somehow, someway they have also been my gateway to myself. Without them I would not be the person I am today. They walked with me all these years as I tried to find them in a person or a place. I can never thank them enough because they never stopped carrying me. They maybe fiction and they maybe made up from people I have never met before but for some reason they lead me to her. They lead me to my beautiful bride Kelsey. I may never watch them the same again. I may never watch them with tears in my eyes and a strong desire for them to be true. I may never watch them the same again but it is ok, because from this day on it will always be Kelsey and the movies.