Going to the Show

I started my day with zen intentions. I earmark Saturdays for early morning pilates followed by a stroll through the area’s farmer’s markets. Quaint, reliable, and relaxing. There’s a certain comfort in waking up by flowing through a series of spring-supported exercises and then embracing that “taller” post-stretch feeling for an hour or so as you greet vendors and follow the scent of just-baked scones and fresh-cut flowers.

But then something happened. My husband and I got into an argument. I won’t call it stupid, or even insignificant, because it wasn’t either of those things. But like most minced words exchanged by couples (married, unmarried, and even platonic), the steam will eventually settle.

He had made his Saturday evening plans clear earlier in the weekend, and so I was determined — and honestly, fueled by annoyance — to do something solo.

I’ve always enjoyed (and have previously written about) going to the movies. As a kid it was almost the requisite weekend activity, and when I was a young(er) professional in New York, it was my little weeknight luxury.

I lived in Queens, and when I left work early enough (a rarity when I was agency-side) to take the train, I’d make a habit of checking the marquee at the theater that sat parallel to the subway.

The relative quietness of a movie theater is one of my favorite things. You’re alone with your thoughts, but not really alone, even if, for all intents and purposes, you’re on a “me date”; no shame in being a party of one.

I don’t like distractions. I like to sink into a movie without having to feign concern about whether my companion enjoyed the experience.

The entire ritual of going to the movies, or “going to the show” as my grandparents used to say, is somewhat sacred to me.

I don’t like to get there too early or too late. Two or three minutes past the printed showtime (which is still at least 10 minutes before the movie will actually start) is just right. I’d be lying if I said that my being almost thirty stopped me from also allowing for just enough time to pick up a kid’s pack of popcorn and a drink. It doesn’t, and I absolutely always do.

Tonight was not much different.

I’m lucky to be within a 5-minute walk and 10-minute drive to two quality movie-going institutions. Tonight, I opted for the latter, and saw Tea with the Dames (released in the UK as Nothing Like a Dame).

There was something especially cozy about seeing it at Jacob Burns Film Center. The seats are upholstered almost like the couch at your grandparents’ house that you’re not really allowed to sit on (because it’s not covered in plastic).

The movie itself was delightful. Lots of laughs, generational jokes that are charming to a millennial and likely all too familiar and relatable to the Dames’ fellow octogenarians.

What I appreciated most was that it reminded me of conversations I would have with my mom’s parents, and her aunts and uncles. Tales of their prime — happy, sad, and in between.

The memories shared and schmoozed over between Dames Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, and Eileen Atkins were a reminder to me to cherish the company you keep, and to be hopeful that one day I’ll be able to retell stories with even a sliver of the same sense of satisfaction.

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