“Alone?” My fellow intern Eliza and I looked at each other in dismay as the word hung in the air before us, taking up too much space in our small office.
“Yes you guys are going to the movies alone, that way we can maximize the number of films seen by MyNorth staffers.” Our supervisor/ writing guru Lindsey said. “It’ll be fun!”
In college, there really isn’t much that you do alone. We share rooms, bathrooms, sorority functions, study nooks, eat, blow off steam and work out together- in short, Eliza and I are pack creatures. Like lemmings, if we are divided from other twenty-something year olds we are a little directionless. And now we were going to the movies, that classic date night, alone? Not cool.
And so with these (perhaps hyperbolically) lonesome thoughts swirling around in my head, I stepped in to the back of the block-long line to see the film Margaret. It was hot, and all around me groups of people were fanning each other with stiff blue and white movie guides. The woman behind me was telling her husband that they really could’ve finished their bread pudding, there was no way we were getting in to the theatre before eight. A foursome of dapper fifty-somethings were pantomiming what could only be golf strokes. Checking my phone, I hoped it would look like I was communicating with someone who would eventually join me, dreading being the only one alone.
Eventually the line snaked in to the theater, and I found myself sitting in the very front row next to Bread Pudding Lady, who had been separated from her husband and friends in the process of finding a seat. Two lone movie goers, we chatted about what college I went to, her home on Torch Lake, and the free movies at the open space. When I said I had never seen Footloose before, she wiggled around in her seat in a pretty fair approximation of Kevin Bacon.
Feeling better about my first venture to movies-for-one, I began to relax and listened to the live performer Miriam Pico. She had just the sort of voice and style that I enjoy listening to the most; earthy vocals, and laid back acoustic strumming lent her rendition of “Be My Baby” a campfire feeling that had the entire theater chiming in on the chorus.
Then Margaret started, and any lingering worries faded away. The movie was instantly absorbing, following the emotional fall out of a young woman who witnesses (really causes) a fatal bus accident. The scenes of raw, alarmingly real conflict were balanced with breathtaking shots of New York City and a gorgeous classical soundtrack. Together the entire theatre followed the protagonist’s downward spiral and long crawl to partial redemption.
Two and a half hours later, I emerged in to the evening with my new friend Bread Pudding Lady, both of us speaking in the monosyllabic language of entranced movie goes. “When she..” “Oh my gosh I know and that part..” “Right? So…” “Breathtaking!”.
And so now I am looking forward to my next movie. With or without a companion, it will be a Traverse City Film Festival selection and that guarantees an interesting evening. And in the dark, bathed only in the glow of the big screen, no one is really watching alone.