You Know Where to Find Me
Junk Drawer, 2023
Sam A. Davis
📷 : Used with permission, Sam A. Davis
Movies/shows with heart, positive vibes, warm message
“A mattress. There’s nothing like moving a mattress.”
When I was in high school, children with learning or mild intellectual disabilities either attended classes on the school’s third floor or they went to specialized schools that were designed to meet their specific challenges. Early in the 1980s though, mainstreaming, , the initiative to move students with such disabilities out of segregated learning areas into regular settings, came along. In addition to reducing the stigma often associated with students with disabilities, the goal of mainstreaming was to socialize them into the everyday culture of kids their age, enjoy school events, and just hang out like high school kids do.
What we’ve come to recognize over the last 40 years is that people with learning and mild intellectual disabilities are capable of understanding and doing significantly more than they were given credit for prior to mainstreaming. Back then, for example, the establishment operated under the assumption that many of these individuals did not have the temperament to live with their families or the capacity to even hold down a job. I love this 20-minute short about a kid with a job and moving out of his mother’s home because it pointedly contradicts these assumptions. Frankie is a 23-year-old with a mild intellectual disability, and he is moving into his own place for the first time in his life.
Excited about his new place, even if it is just across the way from his mom’s house, Frankie, played by acting neophyte Grayson Deeney, makes an adjustment to a piece of furniture and says with satisfaction, “I been planning this my whole life.” When his housewarming party does not quite turn out as planned, we learn something about his perseverance as he later tells his mom, “Don’t keep looking out the window at me. Love you.”
Seemingly alone, Frankie’s mother, played by Noa Graham (Elegy for a Glacier, The Secret Diet of an Exchange Student), is soft-spoken and patient as she coaches her son on the appropriate greeting to leave on his answering machine. It takes several (okay, more than several) tries, but ultimately, she leaves him the space to craft a message that is right for him. It is one of the most touching scenes I’ve ever seen.
One of the things I find interesting about films centering children with disabilities is that they often show mothers as the sole caretakers of children with disabilities. Unfortunately, You Know Where to Find Me is no different. Perhaps the percentages bear this out, but it would be nice to see fathers depicted as caregivers of their children as well. I wonder how Frankie’s adjustment to his new apartment and experience living alone would differ if someone he identified much more closely with (a father or another male figure) was depicted as being a part of his life. A girl, for example, attends his party. While we get the sense that he likes her, he is clearly inexperienced on how to engage her. Could the influence of a father or father figure have boosted his comfort level in this regard? Can Frankie’s quality of life be even better with the appropriate support?
Watching Sam A. Davis’s beautiful short makes me wonder how, for so many years, we could have disregarded people because they present themselves to the world a little differently than most. I like this film because it shows that presenting oneself differently doesn’t mean we’re wrong for the world. It just means we’re different.