Yesterday (if only by a few hours) was the day in which in 1989’s “Back to the Future II”, Dr. Emmett Brown and Marty McFly went into “the future” of approximately 30 years from their present time of 1985. As the classic film trilogy became more of a sensation and ultimately a nostalgic franchise, much attention has been brought to the date of October 21, 2015 and seeing where the film was right and wrong. Plenty of films, TV shows, comics, and books have glimpsed at the future and were right or wrong to varying degrees. Flying cars aren’t commonplace and the Chicago Cubs won’t be going to the World Series (much less winning it), and the “Jaws” franchise mercifully stopped well before the 19th installment. As part of Universal Studio’s push for promotions (and to sell a new blu-ray of the trilogy), there have been videos shot about the film, cast reunions, a new comic series, and a lot of media attention both online and off about it.
I enjoy the trilogy overall and normally am all about celebrations of geeky things I like. Yet today’s celebration of “Back to the Future” reminded me of my own reunion with the films several years ago. I got an unexpected feeling of depression and sadness from it around 2009-2010, and some of those feelings returned today. I suppose it was “triggering” for a brief period.
The sequels were great fun (even if “Back to the Future Part III” is usually considered the poorest of series) but those feelings arose when I re-watched the original 1985 installment those years ago. I won’t summarize the film, but the gist is that Marty McFly has to go back in time to when his parents were teenagers in the 1950’s and ensure their romance blossoms to keep himself from vanishing from the time-stream after an experiment with Dr. Brown’s famous Delorian goes wrong. The film has everything – drama, comedy, big ideas and a lot of imagination, and music. Yet in “fixing” the past, not only does Marty ensure his own birth, he also alters history enough that his father George McFly goes from being a simpering weakling who is stepped on all the time towards being far more confident (in particular, by socking his lifelong bully, Biff Tannen). It changes his entire life and the entire dynamic of Marty’s family. In addition, Huey Lewis’ “Power of Love” song is a key theme of the film, and naturally Marty himself is “Mr. Cool” of the mid 1980’s, with a girlfriend, a skateboard, and a fun, aloof demeanor. He goes through development to overcome his recklessness in the sequels.
At the time, I was not only still a lonely, single virgin, but I was also unemployed and pretty much watching my grandmother die by inches (and my mother’s health worsen as we both tried to care for her until the end came). My life had hardly gone how I’d imagined or hoped it would have, and still hasn’t. There were so many stories about time travel and altering history that I’ve seen that I didn’t bat an eye. But for some reason, that movie at that time made me so depressed that I was almost in tears. The characters are all down to earth and likeable enough (aside for Biff, one of cinema’s best villains, of course) and it seemed to twig on me that George was a hapless loser until he got a second chance through a fluke of science (and his cool son). I thought about myself and realized that I was similar – I was a hapless loser who seemed to be at the receiving end of life. I was bullied, and never stood up to the bullies out of fear in junior high. Women didn’t notice me and the few who did usually didn’t respect me. The confident, aggressive guys who walked all over me as a youth continued to do so as a man. I guess I related a little more to George than I expected, only unlike him…there’s no time machine in real life. I won’t get a second chance to fix the mistakes of the past. There’s nobody coming from the future to make sure I got the life I should have had or became the man I should have been. There’s no do-over, no retry at life and the hands I was dealt, or played poorly. I’m stuck as the loser I am, with the useless traits and tools I have, and there is no quick fix out of it. Even if I scrape together something better, it will never be anything like a happy, healthy, successful and romantic life. The fact that I never felt “the power of love” and likely never will didn’t help, either. I didn’t want to be stuck as the Dateless-Man, but it is how things shook out, and all I can do is trudge forward until it ends.
If I could go back in time and talk to my younger, pre-teen self, I’d tell myself so many things. Or, I might wind up acting out my own self loathing and muck up the time-stream. When I was 12, I’d have hated to be told by own future counterpart what a loser I’d be if I didn’t do this or that. I’d have also hated to learn that I’d still be messed up as a man over 30; at least when I was young I had hope that things would change. Now? There’s an eastern saying I like, “Hope is a bird with no feet.” It can fly, but never land.
Thankfully, today’s depression reminder didn’t last long. I’m over it, and I still have another essay about my latest go around with speed dating to type about. But since I have no other venues which I feel comfortable with writing about my bouts with depression and loneliness online than this blog, I figured this would do. At least this week I’ll hit my two posts a month average for October!