I initially wrote this a couple of months ago, which should explain any time-based confusion to readers who know me. I also am still unsure how I feel about romanticizing this so much, but it has been a month since I wrote about Community, so I needed to post something.
I love going to the movies, as you may have put together, but I have never really been able to put together a definable reason as to why I like it so much. I obviously love the actual watching of the movies, but I have paid to see some unbelievably poor movies that I never would have watched at home (Kangaroo Jack, Mindhunters, Dickie Roberts, Bulletproof Monk, Million Dollar Baby, etc). This is very much because of the low ticket prices at my local discount theatre, but also because of my lifelong love of movies.
I went to the movies fairly frequently before high school, but once I met some like-minded friends in high school, I started going to the movies 2-3 times a week. Outside of trying out for the school basketball team twice and writing one movie review in Grade 9 for the school paper (a positive review of the Legend of Bagger Vance that I clearly wish I could take back), I didn’t partake in any extracurricular activities, and neither did two of my soon to be closest friends. We started to make the walk downtown to the movie theatre after school, and this became something we would do pretty much any afternoon when none of us had to work. This trend continued on many weekends and throughout summer vacations, where I learned something else about my friends and, in turn, going to the movies.
I love the friends I have talked about here, but some of them are pretty unreliable. Sometimes I would make plans to go to a movie with somebody, and then they just wouldn’t show up. After this happened a few times, I was pretty sick of just going home, so I started seeing the movies by myself, which I quickly found was almost as enjoyable as seeing the movie with somebody else. This was a pretty killer discovery, because then I realized that on those pesky days when I couldn’t find anybody to go with, I could just go by myself. I could see just about anything I wanted to, and I could go back to see something good multiple times if I wanted to (and I did, sometimes even three days in a row). I didn’t skip much school in high school or university, but when I did, typically I ended up at the movies. This eventually escalated to the point where I’m at now, where whenever I get a day where I don’t have anything to do, I go to this same theatre all day and see everything I’ve missed.
I’ve lived in the same city with this theatre for about 12-13 years now, and I have finally gotten a job that is going to move me out of it. I won’t miss this city itself, much like I have never really missed high school or university once I left them. I miss some people, but I never miss the places. I do, however, feel awkward going back. For some reason that I can’t remember now, I had to go back into my high school very briefly a couple of years ago, and upon walking through the doors I was instantly filled with a feeling of awkwardness. I have no idea why, but I just felt completely uncomfortable and had to get out of there as soon as I could. Now that I have left university, the same thing tends to occur, albeit to a lesser degree, when I have to go on campus or the time I rented movies from the video store I worked at for years. I am borderline obsessed with memory and more specifically how I remember moments and artifacts from my past, and I think my being uncomfortable with revisiting these places is because it can only hurt the remaining pleasant memories I may have of them.
The other day, I decided to go to the movies for one last chance to have a movie day, knowing full well that this will probably be the end of being able to do this what with adulthood looming* and moving to a city where the cheapest theatre is a full $3 more than what I’m used to paying. The convenience of my home theatre’s location, mixed with its incredible ticket prices, will probably not happen again in my life. I’m obviously not saying I’m never going to the movies again, because that would be absurd, but I might be saying goodbye to the days when I go to see a 1pm movie and am still around for the last show of the night at 10. And the worst part about it all is that when I’m back in town visiting, I don’t see myself wanting to go back to this theatre. Like high school, university, and the video store, I hate going back, likely because so much of my life was spent there.
I have many notable memories at this theatre, two of which that stick out to me now are when I saw The Girl Next Door, and then years later when I saw Adventureland. Each time I was alone, and each time I had just finished my final year at an educational institution – high school for The Girl Next Door, and university for Adventureland. I’ve always said that the sign of a good comedy is when it can make me laugh out loud when I’m by myself, and both of these movies accomplished that repeatedly. I also remember really liking each when I saw them – each movie was about somebody who I could see parts of myself in, and I was, to a point, emotionally invested in each main character’s decisions.
In the past week, I have rewatched each of these two movies, and have discovered that while the Girl Next Door is still funny, it is certainly not good. The whole thing is ridiculous. I don’t know what I was thinking when I was 18, but now I’m thinking I was an idiot. While it isn’t altogether impossible, it still seems bizarre that I could ever be emotionally invested in a movie like this. I typically feel like I should be laughing at absurd teen movies, not taking them seriously: this is why you give the “really?” look to people who think that the Breakfast Club is a serious film.
Going back and watching the Girl Next Door again is pretty much how I feel about returning to my high school, university, and probably soon my favourite movie theatre. The place is still the same, but your good memories of it far outweigh anything that can be accomplished by going back. With time, parts of your memories will fade away, and you’ll be left with only the best (and I suppose worst) parts of those memories. I am an advocate for watching movies multiple times, and I am not saying that I shouldn’t have watched the Girl Next Door again, I am just saying that I shouldn’t necessarily expect to get the same initial feeling watching a movie years after first viewing it. I liked Adventureland this week just as much as I did a year ago, but that may change with time like my opinions on the Girl Next Door did. I might see my old theatre in the future, but it can never be the same. It is far more likely that it will feel like rewatching the Girl Next Door, or meeting up with a friend I haven’t seen in years: the idea of it will be exciting, but the actual event will almost always be a letdown. Luckily, I have the memories and the ticket stubs to remind me of what was, and what the place meant to me.
*I say that you’re not truly an adult until you stop shamelessly using your clothes as napkins in public places, and while I have yet to reach that stage, I always fear that day is on the horizon.