I Watched ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ and Realized I’m Not a Chill Girl

April 28, 2023

Graphic by Lucy Leydon

Sometimes I’m too much. And sometimes I’m nothing at all.

I watched “The Banshees of Inisherin” with my family a few weeks ago. Well, “watched with my family” is a bit of an overstatement. Two minutes in, my mom and dad fell asleep on the couch. My brother went to his room after minute four.

So really, it was just me in a dark room, alone, watching this movie that many people like my parents write off as boring. Because what even happens in that movie, really? It’s just two old friends bickering in an idyllic, isolated landscape. Oscar bait.

To be frank, I’m still not quite sure I understand the movie for what its intention was. Nor do I fundamentally disagree with my parents. Though I found myself drifting off, there was a bit of fear I felt that kept my eyes on the screen.

The entire plot is about a man finding out that his best friend has secretly hated him for most of his life, and then finding out that everyone finds him dull and no one really likes him very much compared to his friend. The two ex-friends declare dramatic reprieves and in the end, nothing really changes.

My first thought when finishing the movie was to send a text to every friend I had and ask them if they still wanted to be friends (Do you like me? Really, be honest, do you like me?). But then my mind went further. Do people tune me out when I talk, like Padraic? Do I talk too much? Am I too much?

The conclusion was undeniably a yes. I am too much. When people point out my character flaws they often gesture to intensity, anxiousness, and the smallness they feel when they’re around me. I deflate as they sigh and say “Sometimes you’re a bit much,” and then tilt their head and add, “And sometimes you’re nothing at all.”

Graphic by Lucy Leydon

I am big. I am big and large and engulfing and when I talk about something I’m interested in I don’t stop. I am a black hole, swirling people to pieces as they fight against my gravitation. And I am, like that black hole, full of a whole lot of somethingness or nothingness that I guess people don’t always like. And I fear that once they get too close, once they see my intensity rear its ugly head, our friendship will wither and fall into some warped, timeless landscape.

My conversations are a practice in biting my lip, trying not to yell “I want to know you!” when they laugh casually and ask about the weather. “Tell me everything you know,” when they bring up a hobby they’re interested in.

I want someone to match me blow for blow because I am not too big. Everyone is too small. Too scared of muchness. We force ourselves into little skeletons and push our ribs in like too-tight corsets. Fitting the standard. Fitting the normal-shaped human hole in the wall.

I want to know you. All of you. Even the parts that you shave off to squeeze by, the parts that you pluck in front of the mirror and toss in recycling, the parts that you hack off and store under your bunk bed.

I want to know how your day was — what you thought of the color of the sky, if it reminded you of the night of your first kiss, how your shoes fit (have the soles worn in?). I want to know about the shirt your mom sewed tight when it loosened at the collar, whether you believe that you are taller in some other world, how many dandelions you plucked from the edge of the sidewalk. Did the whiff of pollen dot your nose? Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten it pierced, but you wanted to make yourself brand new.

The universe yells that it begs to balance the scales from my whalish ideals but I refuse, I refute, I swim. I am all-swallowing of its krill, an oceanic black hole. And I accept the state of being everything and nothing at all.

Even as I sink into the couch, the wisps of my parents’ snores tinging my ears, I force down the lids over my eyes, and I once again try to contain them. I once again try to balance all of my somethings and nothings, all in all. ■

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