“Country Strong” from JFK to LAX

My brother, who travels all over the world, has told me that he often finds himself crying watching movies on airplanes. Movies that wouldn’t otherwise inspire him to cry if he saw the same movies in a theater. I’m thinking about this now as I sit suspended in air trying not to think about being suspended in the air.

I’m feeling kinda emotional too right now. I mean, I just found myself weeping during the airplane movie, Country Strong, which really does not deserve my tears. So I’m thinking about this interesting phenomenon about crying on airplanes. I wonder why….

Is it because when you stare out the window and see the sun setting over big puffy clouds with miniscule lights below each representing thousands of huge lives being lived you are filled with those brain-bending thoughts of wonder and awe about the vastness of this world and your existence? Or is it because there’s something weirdly emotional that happens to you when that buzzing airplane noise gets stuck in your psyche? Or is it because you’re simply tired from a week of work in New York City away from your home and you’re simply dying to get home and hug those kids of yours up and any thought of their glowing faces makes you weep with yearning? Or is it because you simply can not believe you have almost three hours left of your flight when you swear you’ve already been on the plane for like 6 hours and isn’t this only a 5 ½ hour flight?

It’s all that and more for me right now.

I made the mistake of scrolling through my iPhone photos after Country Strong ended because I keep getting a warning that I don’t have enough space to take more photos. So I thought I would delete some or all of those millions of photos that my kids end up taking all over the house – most of which are extreme close-ups of the floor.

And for some weird reason, I have photos reaching back to almost three years ago when I first got an iPhone and it did not help my Country Strong tears to see each of my babies looking way more babyish than they are now.

I just spent a week away from them. Their huge lives being lived and I didn’t witness any of it. And I kinda feel like shit about it. This is life I guess. The balancing act of raising a family and being with your family. But tonight the balance is way off. Six days away and it’s too much. Simply too much.

I’m getting older and it’s weird. I meet young eager faces ready for a career in television and I thought for a long time that I would most always be younger than most. And now I’m older than most and it’s weird. And add on top of my lifey thoughts the fact that I’m reading “A Visit from the Goon Squad” which is one depressing tale of time and getting older after another and wow –

I want to be graceful about getting older. Just like my Grandma who never considered Botox and lived until 91 years of age with the smoothest, most beautiful wrinkles on her face. Her eyes glowed with memories of living. I want to be like her. I want to resist the temptation to hide my age. To hide the wrinkles that are only there because I’ve laughed and cried and have made overly dramatic expressions that define part of who I am.

Can I do it?

I hope so. I’m feeling all Country Strong right now. We’ll see what happens when I land and I continue my daily existence where mirrors taunt me.

I’m tired and the airplane buzz seems really loud right now and the final glow of the sun is escaping my view ready to shine its light on someone else in the world.

I’m almost home…..

13 Responses to ““Country Strong” from JFK to LAX”

  1. Kristen says:

    Now you’ve got ME all weepy . . .

  2. Well, my friend. You have sent that sun over to me this morning, after two days of hard rain. And you speak of age and you write so beautifully about your heart and it’s a gift to me. On my birthday. How’d ya do that? 🙂 And your comment left for me? Another gift…of remembering this crazy chance meeting of ours and the gift of our friendship. I love you. Thank you.

    I hope your Sunday is full of the goodness of those fast-growing kiddos.

  3. samara says:

    Good stuff here Lee. I am always happy when I see you in my reader, no matter how long it’s been.

  4. Tiffany says:

    I’m older than most, too, and it’s SO weird. When did THAT happen? Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone. x

  5. Amy Sims says:

    Ok, the scene in Country Strong where she’s singing to that adorable boy in the cowboy hat???? Come on … totally cry-worthy. That scene will forever stick with me. It may not be the Color Purple, but definitely emotional.

    As for Botox, you my friend are beautiful JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!!!!! No Botox necessary.

  6. loved this. so beautifully expressed and so true. side note: i’m constantly walking around work feeling like a grandma! (i work in TV too)

  7. Karen says:

    Wow Lee – Did you really post this over 2 WEEKS ago. How out of touch have we really become, my friend? Its sad and its starting to piss me off! (in a loving way)! Face time is needed asap, isn’t it?

    I love you and I love this post my dear.

    And amen to getting old. Its definitely not as gracefully as I’d like, but I’m trying to come to terms with it and embrace it. Emphasis on ‘trying’ – I’ll keep you posted on how I do.

  8. Ann says:

    I heard a fantastic essay about the exact same thing–the irrational crying at horrible movies on airplanes–by a guy who NEVER cries in real life. I think it was on This American Life.

    Anyway, this is beautiful and I’m sorry you are missing your family so much.


    Dude if anyone is country strong it is YOU. And also NOT Gwyneth Paltrow.

  9. Ann says:

    Here’s the link:


    It’s act four: “Contrails of my tears”

  10. old Laura says:

    I’m the fucking crypt keeper

    miss you

  11. Karenmeg says:

    I hear you on this -I remember years ago watching Moulin rouge on a plane en route to Paris for work , and just bawling my eyes out mixed with cracking up with laughter. My young colleague next to me had to check to make sure I was okay. I think I may have been missing my 3 year old at home, sorting awful.
    Funny that I just ordered goon squad to read. I guess I should be prepared to cry.

  12. ash says:

    OK, that movie is going on my NetFlix list for the next time G is out of town.

    I’m sorry you’re having to travel so much. No lay overs in Dallas? This post is old, and I’m late to the party, so maybe your long commute is done. I hope so.

    I hear you on the growing old gracefully thing. I want to. I really do. But just the other day, I was wondering who will pluck the dark hair out of my neck when I get too old to notice? My roots are two inches long, yet my vanity hinges upon that single strand. WTH?

    It might be time to just embrace the failing, fuzzier bod and let the new generation worry about all that crap. Better them than us.

    XO – Ash

  13. Anna Lefler says:

    I LOVE this post, Lee. It’s like you’re reading my mind.

    Your writing is gorgeous.

    Proud to know you, lady.



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