Matinees and Ghosts
Got it into my head I needed to see “Star Trek Into Darkness”, decided to avail myself of the aggressive schedule available, and chose a 9:30 am show up the street at Courthouse. After the blissful warmth of Friday, this cool grey Saturday was tailor-made for a trip to a celluloid (well, I guess it’s digital now) temple.
As I was making my way up the hill I felt an echo of nostalgia, of lives lived, and the mental cinema of my past flickered in the back of my mind. My first apartment lay not a quarter mile away, and the theater I was headed to had opened not long after I’d moved in, and had been my refuge and delight. The days of being able to afford cable still a distant dream (and computers were years away) my stereo, broadcast TV and books were the extent of my home entertainment. Of course, I was working two jobs so leisure time was at a premium, but dreams were a quick walk up the street.
I don’t romanticize the struggles of youth, but my trip to the theater this morning reminded me that I used to experience genuine excitement hitting a Saturday matinee. I was going to SEE something, experience something you couldn’t get anywhere else. The proliferation of access, via VCR, then cable, then DVD’s, then Blu-Ray and now streaming has slowly robbed me of that sweet, junkie-like need to get to the theater.
All of my seminal film going experiences had been in my teens and early twenties, and living in the suburbs, often involved wild excursions into DC where parking and personal safety notional at best. But in the AMC Courthouse, I had MY theater, a place so close it didn’t really matter what was playing. It was a cool oasis when all I had was a window AC, and a perfect hub for dates when winding up back at my place was a strategic objective.
Which brings me back to this morning, as I crested the hill a light rain began to fall, and I walked past a happy poodle at the taco truck, and through disgruntled flea market vendors to my morning movie. Since I’d last been to this theater, it’s been completely renovated, and now sports reserved seating and more comfortable furniture than my apartment.
It took me a minute to get the hang of the ticketing machine, it seemed to sense my discomfort and take delight in baffling me. Taking my seat, I did my best to ignore the bright and brittle adver-tainment on the screen, choosing instead to marvel at how profoundly transformed the theater was – huge burgundy laz-y-boy recliners with twin cup-holders encouraging inhuman sloth and consumption. But, then I opened my eyes to the audience, a significant crowd for a 9:30 show – a happy family, a smattering of grey hairs, groups of tweens, and some young couples in young love.
As the lights dimmed, I remembered so many other moments of the lights dimming, a simple ceremony of transportation – to the waking dream state of stories told in the dark.