I Can’t Wait to Walk Down the (movie) Aisle

I miss going to the movies.

As a society, we are all missing something right now, be it people, places, or things that bring us joy. After two months of stay-at-home orders, states are beginning to slowly open up again with various different safety measures in place. I’ve read the articles and I’ve seen the photos – open restaurants that barely have guests, nail salons with patrons getting manicures behind protective shields of glass.

And I sit here and find myself asking: “But what about the movie theaters?”

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, I would hear conversations from people debating the need for movie theaters. “They’re too expensive! Why would I go to a movie theater when I can watch from the comfort of my own home?” “A popcorn and soda cost how much?!” “This is crazy!” And I get it. For a family of four to go the movies is a small fortune. But the movie theater means so much more to me than just watching the movie.

Author John Green once said “Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes place for that”. And while I agree with Mr. Green, my anxiety ridden brain through this pandemic hasn’t allowed me to get through one book. And to be honest I’ve checked my phone countless times while writing this. I’ve found myself longing to buy myself a movie ticket and sit in a dark theater, phone on silent mode, and get away for a little while (usually two or more hours these days – what happened to the 90 minute movie?).

Before the pandemic, I would see multiple movies a month and during peak Oscar season sometimes multiple times a week. Going to the movies has been a ritual for me since I was a kid, thanks to my parents. I personally feel fortunate that I had parents who didn’t sensor content for me too much. I feel lucky to have the memory of seeing The Sixth Sense in theaters as a ten year old and sharing that infamous twist with a room full of people just as shocked as me. Or Titanic, which was not only my first movie in what is now standard stadium-style seating but also my first nude scene. It’s almost like my parents knew these movies were something that would be remembered for a long time and they wanted me to be a part of history. Or they just wanted to see these movies and didn’t want to get a babysitter. Either way I feel like I won.

There are not many places in the world that force you to unplug like a movie theater and right now I feel like the world needs that. While the pandemic has forced us all to slow down a little, it has left many of us the time and space for racing thoughts. Going to the movies can be cathartic, like the time I saw Call Me By Your Name alone at the Kabuki theater in San Francisco. I could hear the soft crying of strangers (and myself) as Timothée Chalamet stared into a fire on screen and did the same while the credits rolled. Or watching 1917, body tense the entire time on the edge of my seat, along with the stranger next to me. We didn’t know each other but we shared that moment together.

With summer coming up that usually means the release of big summer blockbusters and I hope movie theaters can open safely. They are in a great position to literally control where people sit. When they do re-open, I will be there with e-ticket in hand, mask on, ready to escape for a little while.

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