And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
Well, like pretty much the rest of the world, my family and I went into lockdown this week. On Monday, our governor announced that he was putting in a “Shelter In Place” order, on Tuesday, it became official, and on Wednesday, it went into action. So here we are.
As a family, our habit has been to go out to dinner on Saturday nights, and often, we also go to a movie. I’ve loved going to the movies for pretty much as long as I can remember. The big screen, the brightness, the sound…all of it is larger than life and I soak it in. The theater we tend to go to recently added really nice seats that recline with the push of a button. Every now and then, they run a special with older movies and I delight in bringing my 7-year old granddaughter to them. The last movie we saw together was the original Sleeping Beauty. She was mesmerized, even without all the bells and whistles of current animation. Partway through the movie, I leaned over and whispered, “Do you know how old Grandma was when this movie came out?” She shook her head, her eyes glued to the screen. “I wasn’t even born yet!” I said, and then she did turn to me, her already large brown eyes even larger, widened in amazement that what she was watching was even older than her grandmother!
The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was Disney’s One Hundred And One Dalmatians. I remember sitting in my seat and looking up at that screen and being as agog as my granddaughter. I remember gasping, laughing, crying, putting my hands over my eyes to block the scary parts. But the weird thing is the movie came out in 1961, when I was a year old. I know this took place in Minnesota, where I lived from 1966 – 1972. I remember being little, my legs not hanging over the edge of my seat. But I wasn’t one. It must have been a revival of some sort, a showing of an older movie. All I know for sure is that I loved it, and when I was old enough to date, the best date anyone could take me on was to the movies. The boys I went with knew that the movies weren’t an excuse for a make-out session. My hand could be held or an arm could be draped around my shoulders, but let me focus on that screen. It’s still that way today.
Which is why I felt sad that we were locked down before I had a chance to see The Call Of The Wild or The Assistant, both on my to-see list. We locked down before I could bring my granddaughter to see Onward, which I’d been planning on since I saw its first trailer.
One of the things I’ve learned from this lockdown is that our lives aren’t completely online. We still treasure many places and experiences that occur off the worldwide web. I miss the movies. My gym. Going out to eat. My students.
But last Saturday night, we ordered pizza and wings and had them delivered. Then we sat down to watch a DVD. Yes, a DVD – not a movie on Netflix or Hulu or any of the other streaming services. Michael and I have been hooked on watching the series This Is Us on Hulu, and one of the actors is Mandy Moore. This brought us to remember the movie Saved, with Mandy Moore, Macauley Culkin, and Jena Malone. Michael and I saw the movie together in the theater in 2004 and were so taken with it, we bought the DVD. So we dug it out, dusted off the DVD player, called Olivia out of her room, and we watched.
And here’s the thing. In a theater, I typically sit with Michael on one side of me and Livvy on the other. We eat popcorn and slurp soda and push the buttons on our recliners to get comfortable. But while we might whisper a comment or two to each other during the movie, we’re silent, out of respect for the other theater-goers.
But at home?
We talked before the movie, introducing Olivia to what it was about. We talked during the movie, pausing it if we had an extensive conversation. And we talked afterwards, without the disruption of pulling on jackets, grabbing purses, walking to the car, paying attention to the road.
It was just the nicest evening.
Now when (note I didn’t say if) life goes back to normal, will I be back in the theater? Oh, yes. Partly for myself, because I love the cinema. But partly for the theaters themselves, because they’re going to be hurting very soon. Someone told me that this is likely the final nail in the coffin for theaters, who have been struggling to compete with streaming systems. I’m going to try to pull out that last nail. I may be almost sixty, but there’s a part of me still that sits agog in front of that large screen, watching black and white dogs do amazing things, and that part of me wants to glance over and see my granddaughter, the reflections of the film playing over her face.
But will I remember this evening of watching a movie I love, watching my daughter watch it, talking to her about it in real time and not waiting for the two hours to go by? Oh, yes. I think we’ll be exploring more of the DVDs we have hidden away in our coffee table.
In the middle of this chaos, it was just the nicest evening.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.