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I Hope the Neck Opens Up for You


It's on this year's menu. (image: pixabay.com)

It's the clean-slate time of year, and I never really know how to feel right about now. I’m writing this on January 2nd, and I'm simultaneously excited for the year ahead, but overwhelmed at the endless possibilities. The upcoming days, weeks, and months are a menu with over three hundred mouth-watering dishes. A server will continually approach my table while I’m stewing over the options.

“What would you like?” they will ask, pen poised to take my order.


Gosh. It’s a big question. It’s always a big question. My inner perfectionist struggles.

Today, I order a movie. It’s overcast, mid-50s, and every once in a while, a passing shower coats the outside world. The kids and dog are snuggled up in the living room, so this choice seems right. We rent A24’s 2021 film, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. The premise is that a man named Dean moves into an AirBnB and discovers its co-inhabitant, Marcel, a tiny talking shell (with shoes on). Dean creates a documentary about Marcel that goes Internet viral.


I’m pretty sure Marcel is a hermit crab, although this is never outright stated. The movie is smart, well-paced, and never boring. My iced water threatens to snort out of my nose more than once. This makes the kids laugh harder than I laugh at the movie. My dog settles in.


Marcel’s grandmother, Nana Connie, is also a talking shell. When asked about Marcel, Nana Connie says, “I want him to dive into life.” Connie makes me think about today, and the year’s menu. There exist endless ways to branch into life.


“Why are you writing while we watch the movie?” My youngest child asks.


“Because it’s inspiring,” I answer. In truth, my hands are never idle.


I realize that Marcel is a metaphor for imagination.


A metaphor brings together two independent concepts in a way that enhances the meaning of both. That was the relationship between Marcel and Dean. It’s the relationship between myself and my children.


Relationships are metaphors, I think.


Relationships are figures of speech that create analogies between two ideas: thus, the metaphor.


Near the end of the movie, Marcel positions himself in such a way to turn his shell into a musical instrument. A breeze blows over him, the sound emanates, and he says, “If I wasn’t there, the sound never would exist.”

Marcel is creativity.


The movie ends. We clap.


My eldest asks if she can borrow my guitar.


“Of course,” I answer. “Please be careful with it.”


On the menu for the year ahead, I place the phrase, “guitar lessons.” It reminds me of another saying; that of what happens when a guitarist finds their hands moving more freely among the instrument: “the neck opens up.”

I intend for this to be a year in which the neck metaphorically opens up. My fingers will move freely across the menu, I’ll choose a dish, and another, and another. Today’s Marcel was delightful.


The younger one asks, “Mom, can we play games tomorrow?”


Of course we can, sweetheart. Of course, we can.



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