November 21, 2009


Tonight I had the second failed movie attempt of my life.

I felt good today. I slept well. I had my morning coffee and listened to "The Star Report" (astronomy news) at 6:37am on the radio. Saturday is my normal sleeping and relaxing day, but this morning I felt restless and yearning to get out of the house. Fortunately, Nannette was game for lunch and a walk, but even that did not completely satisfy me. So I decided to take myself to an 8:50pm movie: "Precious."

As the time to leave approached, I dragged my feet a bit. It was cold outside and my home was warm and cozy. I told myself to stop being ridiculous and got my butt out the door. As I drove toward the Daly City theater, I came close to turning around. Everything suddenly seemed so sad, and my bed seemed safer.

I thought of everyone that I miss intensely, and wanted to cry. A truck with an attached trailer full of cows pulled up next to me on 19th Avenue--seeing chickens and cows in the backs of trucks always breaks my heart. The cows peered out of the narrow slats that served as windows, wide-eyed and anxious. They blinked against the glare of the street lights, and their breath steamed out in puffs. I wanted to turn around again.

I was listening to NPR on the radio, and a portion of Rose Tremain's The Road Home. It was beautiful and sad and careful in its observations of struggle and loneliness and, once again, I wanted to turn around.

I made myself keep going. I was determined to go to a movie tonight.

I parked in the crowded garage full of teenagers laughing and cars honking, so I turned up my radio and closed my eyes to finish listening to the story about Lev the widowed, Russian immigrant trying to make his way in a new world. When the story ended, I thought briefly of starting the car and going home, but I got out of the car and plodded toward the theater.

Standing impatiently in the long line of young couples holding hands, bubble gum-popping adolescents, and kids weaving between and around legs, I shifted my weight from foot to foot and promised myself that I would be so happy I came once I sat in the darkened theater, warm and among fellow humans with their eyes fixed on the screen. When I finally made my way to the front of the line, a bored Vietnamese girl behind the glass flatly informed me that my movie was sold out and the next one was in an hour and a half.

I stood for a few seconds with my mouth open to say something, and then mumbled, "nevermind" and turned to make my way back to the garage. I tried to keep it a secret from myself that I was relieved.

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