I remember it like it was yesterday (which it certainly wasn’t): The year was 1978 and my grandmother, a German immigrant, shuffled me on the bus to our local mega-mall in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, to see Superman: The Movie.
There she sat, surrounded by hundreds of screaming, drooling, sugar-infused kids, a woman who had gone through a world war that literally tore her country apart and forced her to endure such horrors as having acid splashed on her legs and seeing her own sister raped by Russian soldiers. One would imagine such a fantastical flight of fantasy (literally) wouldn’t appeal to an immigrant with deep psychological scars.
But as it turned out, she loved every second.
As a child in Germany my grandmother, Elle, loved the cinema. The flickering lights of early features, the fancy seats and the ambience combined with the collective sense of wonder the films inspired in the crowd transported her beyond her simple existence on a farm to a number of alternate realities. Ultimately, her love of movies made it’s way to me and then to my daughter, proving once and for all that such things are genetic.
#82: Going To The “Show”.
That’s what we called it when we went to the movies when I was a kid. Ellie has been gone for some time now but some of my earliest and most profound memories involve a the two of us, a whole lot of popcorn heroes like Clark Kent, James Bond and Luke Skywalker.
With the exception of hallucinogenic drugs, movies have always been the ultimate form of escapism. Sure, you’ve got your documentaries and historical dramas, but those have never been my bag, although I’m willing to concede that they can be enlightening and life-changing as well. But cartoons, westerns, war flicks, action/adventure extravaganzas, and of course, superhero movies help give my life meaning.
Sitting in a darkened theater, especially with my daughter, helps me decompress from life’s challenges. I don’t think about Rockin’ Ronnie and what he was thinking at the end. There are no conflicting feelings about my mother tearing my consciousness apart. I’m not an (almost) fifty-year-old bellman with no pension, a bad knee and IBS.
I just look over at my kid and see that sense of wonder blazing in her eyes (and no, it’s not just the sugar rush from the $300 worth of candy that I plied her with) and I know life is good. As I’ve said before (and will again and again), the simple pleasures can be the most profound. They’re often the ones that help us hang on until the wheel swings back our way and life is good once more.
And it will be good once more, trust me on this.
Hope is where you find it, friends. I’ve found it in the darkened grandeur of a movie theater. Perhaps you will to.
See you in the lobby and the multiplex, kids…