One benefit of this last year is how greatly it has made me appreciate pleasures I once took for granted. Hanging out at the library when I have 15 minutes to kill and nowhere to go. Serendipitous meetings with acquaintances at the grocery store. Using the restroom at a gas station without counting all the visible noses on the way in and out.
And going to the movies.
I used to take my kids to the dollar movie in the summer time just for a break from the heat. Who cares what’s playing? They have air conditioning and popcorn! I never went to the regular movies very frequently—it’s pricey, and we have plenty of things to watch at home—but for some movies, the big screen really does make a difference. It’s also a way of making An Event. The last movie I saw before the pandemic was Little Women, in December of 2019. I went with a group of women, and it was delightful.
My mom and stepdad are big fans of the Alamo Drafthouse, a chain of movie theater restaurants. They have one not far from their house in Winchester. Recently, they found out that it was possible to rent out a whole theater for a private showing. They wanted to do it so the kids could see the new Disney movie, Raya and the Last Dragon, in a real movie theater. They told us we could invite other friends we felt safe with, so we asked the Kutelopes to join us. We sat in family groups, spaced apart, and everyone wore masks. It’s so funny, something that I would have thought of as a random fun afternoon activity was elevated by scarcity.
The movie was pretty good (I thought some of the dialog writing was not great, but it was extremely pretty). Beyond that, though, just being in an audience was a powerful experience. I teared up a bit, but I think mostly because it has been so long since I shared a space with other people, witnessing a performance. We clapped at the end, I never clap at movies, but I was in an audience and so we clapped together.
Afterward, we went to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, where they’ve just opened a new walking/interactive art trail. The kids ran about and climbed and jumped on everything. We ended with snacks and BIG bubbles. Just a great day, and one that I’m sure we’ll remember. It was also the first time we had really spent much time with the Kutelopes since before Christmas. We’ve missed them!