T2 Trainspotting, based on the novel of the same name and the sequel, Glue, was released last week. I was so obscenely excited that I started to question why. Have I truly not grown since I saw the first movie? What does this say about me that I’ve become so invested in some characters from my past?
I’d never seen anything like Trainspotting—the story, the music, the setting. I claimed Irvine Welsh‘s anti-heroes. I bought all of his books. I bought the soundtrack, I listened to it non-stop. It became the soundtrack for my life. I was living in NYC and a club kid. Always out, always part of the background. And every time I heard a song from it, I was filled with ecstasy (and not the drug that is the title of one of Welsh’s short story collections).
I saw T2 Trainspotting the day it was released in the US. And from the very opening scene, I was pathetically whole-heartedly completely in love. The camera angles, the film sequences, the translation of Begbie’s thick accent, they were exhilarating. They created drama in a story I was already familiar with. The movie follows the same characters, Mark Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie. Spud has given up on life, Renton must start all over, Sick Boy has a new scheme, and Begbie is seeking revenge. It’s twenty years later, twenty years of things happening and changing, and yet, nothing has changed. They’re all in the same place, doing the same things. And as I looked at them, I looked at myself. Why do I care about them? And yet, they are characters I knew intimately. And I wanted to know if they had grown up. Upon consideration, I knew that I had changed. Even if on the exterior, it looks like I’m still going to parties, on the list, dancing til the club closes, drinking for free.
I realized that my obsessive nature, what others would call an addictive behavior found the same salvation in fitness just as Renton did. I traded in my four nights a week at clubs to four trips to the gym. I traded in six drinks a night for six glasses of water a day.
I would look forward to the night because it was that much closer to the music. The loud sounds pulsating through dark rooms, the disco ball’s sporadic lights hitting you as the it spun. The heart fluttering moments when the person you wanted to see showed up. The absolute high when the right song came on, and you were with the people you loved most, and you had a full drink in your hand. That other moment, when a song came on and you were alone, and you realized the dance floor was full of your best friends, all the people who knew the music you knew. They were your kindred. And there was nothing better than that precise moment. Never before. Never would be again. Just that moment. And the next perfect moment when the next perfect song played. And so you chase the dragon of the dark room, loud music, crowded dance floor, lost in a sea of strangers, seeing friends across the room and pulling them close to you, so you can shake, shimmy, and move with them.
I know those moments are so very true and so very false. And I can say that I have grown and yet I’m the same person. Nothing makes me happier than that perfect 2-4 minutes on the dance floor, with the right music, the right people, the right drink. Sometimes all you can do is look for those perfect moments.
T2 Trainspotting is about people that don’t change. And then they do. And then they remain the same. It’s about friendship, and reconnecting and loving your friends. It’s about finding salvation and redemption. It’s about being kind to yourself and learning to live with your past but not in your past. It’s about growing up and realizing who you are.