My mom was in town. She wanted to see the 9/11 Memorial so I reserved two tickets, deadening my eyes and heart and trying not to think too deeply about it. Of course I wanted to go, to see it, but I was here when the planes hit, I saw the Towers fall from the corner of my street, and you know… Sometimes the drama can be too much, especially with my mother, who can get obsessively nostalgic and reflective in these kinds of moments, even though she was far away, in bright, sunny California at the time. Anyway, we went, she and I. The day was gray and gloomy and cold. And quiet. Hushed as we entered, the staff organized and overly pleasant. And then there we were, upon them, two massive square holes in the ground into which water fell and disappeared. It took only a moment to realize how perfect it was, tastefully subtle, elegant in its simplicity, a soft blanket of comfort. The names were larger than I would have thought, and easy to read. We saw some people tracing them with paper, and I couldn’t imagine a better monument for these people and their families. I didn’t cry. I told myself before going in, no crying, no emotion, just take it in, and I did. My mother, however, turned gray and grave and on the verge of tears. She was already in a vulnerable state. At seventy-five, she’d become blinded by thoughts of death, and I think she saw herself sliding with the water into that black hole. It petrified her. For me, oddly, I found the sight comforting, as if I, too, had a place to go. We all did, and it was here.

It was directly after this that I took her to see “Margin Call” at the Angelica. I thought, why not? Things are already grim. She was leaving the next day, already deeply depressed for other reasons, and now more so, and I’d heard the movie was absorbing and intense. It would take our minds off things, for a while anyway. It did not disappoint. The story unfolds over a twenty-four hour time period, as one particular financial company (I won’t say Lehman because the movie is fiction) discovers the horrific economic disaster about to strike them, and, subsequently, the world. Great cast. Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons are at their best, and if for no other reason, go see the movie for this one. It’s what I told my sister the next day, after we’d gossiped about our mother and then I’d mentioned the movie, but before I could go on about its importance, she jumped on this bandwagon about “Horrible Bosses,” which she’d just seen on DVD with her kids.

How do you go from “Margin Call” to “Horrible Bosses?” (Kevin Spacey)

She’d not really wanted to see the movie, she assured me, knowing what might be my reaction. She was no Jennifer Aniston fan for one thing, but mainly she wasn’t in the mood for slapstick guy humor. But her sons insisted and she fell into the couch and didn’t move until the movie was over. “I’m telling you Jackie, I laughed out loud so hard I was crying at one point.” The guys are good, she’d said, it was the actors: Bateman, who was hilarious, and then “that other guy, what’s his name…,” she was laughing just telling me about it, and as I pictured her on that couch guffawing with her kids, then me with my mom in the theater, I got, well, jealous.