One of my favourite things to do in this world is go to the movie by myself. When I’m having a bad day, when I’m having a good day, when it’s too hot out, when it’s snowing like hell, after work, during work, late at night, Saturday morning, I don’t care – I simply love going to the movie theatre alone.
It all started way back in the late 90s when I had a crazy, all-out screaming match with the man I was living with. I left the house to cool off but didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t want to go home but I didn’t have any friends to speak of, at least not people that wouldn’t be shocked at me showing up at their door unannounced and looking like a victim, and I didn’t want to talk about it anyway – I just needed somewhere to go. So I went to an afternoon matinee.
I remember waiting in line for my ticket that first time, recalling the unflattering things I had thought about those slugs I sometimes saw sitting alone in the front row. They ducked in after the lights went down and slipped out before the credits started to roll. Loser? Obviously. Pedophile? Possibly. Weirdo? No doubt.
Or maybe I had been wrong.
For all the people around me knew, I was an exhausted mother with four small kids who was taking advantage of a rare afternoon alone. Or maybe some jerk stood me up and I still had hope he would show. Maybe I was conducting a social experiment and recording all of their condescending vs. pitiful looks as research for an in-depth article I was writing for Psychology Today. Or maybe, just maybe, they could tell from my red nose and watery eyes that I was just a woman who needed a break. What did it matter? I was there, I was square, they could just deal with it.
Once the movie started none of that mattered anyway. I felt like I was the only person in the place and I liked it. I mean, I really really liked it. I discovered that sitting alone in that darkened theatre felt almost like being a part of the movie. I laughed louder and harder than I ever had with someone sitting next to me. I munched on my popcorn without worrying if I’m eating too fast or dropping kernels on my shirt. I didn’t have to concern myself with anyone else’s comfort or happiness but my own. (Which isn’t a rarity for me these days but back then I was painfully aware of my own worthlessness and tended to make up for it by encouraging others to wipe their boots on me.) And when I saw a musical? Well, let’s just say I didn’t sit with anyone in hearing distance.
After that first experience I started going to the movie alone all the time. For years I went every single Friday afternoon and saw whatever was playing, whether I had heard of it or was interested in it or not. In time I left that asshole boyfriend who made me feel lower than dirt, I started my own business, bought my own home, found friends who would be happy to give me a hug if I showed up at their door unannounced. I became stronger and happier and more myself than I ever imagined I could be. Did all that happen because I went to a movie by myself once? Of course not. But it certainly didn’t hurt.
P.S. Today I played hooky from work and went to see Bad Moms. It was funny, you should go.