Wow. John Hughes died yesterday.
I was 13 years old when Sixteen Candles came out. I had just moved to a new town, and a new school, and I didn't know anyone. Also, I was the weird girl. The loner kind. Ridiculously shy. The one who had horror film posters all over her room instead of the hunks-du-jour. I had no friends in my new school, quite literally. I had met one girl who lived down the street from me, one time. She was a junior, with a lifetime's worth of friends, and all her classes in different sections of the building. I ran into her one time, I think, that year. I spoke to no one. Literally. Not one single person. I barely spoke at all. Instead, I immersed, and found, myself in movies.
By the time The Breakfast Club came out in '85, I had finally managed to make a couple of friends. We bonded, in part, over movies. Horror played a large part of that, to be sure, but even larger was the part played by Hughes' oeuvre. Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Pretty in Pink; with each new film, we discovered parts of ourselves, and things we believed in. Even now, when I watch them again, I can still feel that pain and that joy that I felt in those years. I also shared a lot of laughter with my family, on the days I could stand to be anywhere near them, of course, over Mr. Mom and Vacation.
John Hughes gave me my life. I don't mean he gave me characters I could relate to, per se; in some ways I could, but they were still all very different from me. What he did give me, however, was the realization that I didn't have to fit a prescribed mold. I could be a little bit of the weird kid, and a little bit of the nerd, and a little bit of the punk, and still be a little bit of the prom queen. There is no reason in hell I have to live up to anyone's expectations of who I am. Not even my own. Not only that, but he gave me hope: finally, I had a sense that eventually, I would make it through all this. Above all, he made me see that although I was miserable, so was everyone else. I wasn't the only one who was having a hard time figuring out what the hell this life thing was all about. That no matter how it felt most of the time, I was not alone. That made it - no, makes it, this crazy, unpredictable, terrifying, painful, beautiful life - so much easier to bear.
It's funny, when celebrities die. It seems so strange to mourn someone you'd never met. Yet, in this case, the man I've never met truly did have a profound impact on my life. And I'm not the only one. Which is a fitting tribute, I think. To realize, once again, that I'm not alone.