I hop the 1:32 train to Grand Central Station to go see Before Midnight before I accidentally hear anything about it. (Here’s why) My paranoia about this is freakish, so to quell the crazy I am going to NYC where it is showing exclusively. It is playing in but two theatres, one of which happens to be on the Upper West Side, a theatre I know quite well.
It is fitting. I would often spend Memorial Day weekend with my Dad in New York where we would engage in our epic ritual of culture absorption: movies, museums, theatre, fine dining. I haven’t been to the city since my Dad died because the thought of it brings about a particular ache. Facing that ache may be the only thing to soothe it. Perhaps it is no coincidence that this most special movie has opened on this particular weekend, at a theatre we have been to countless times.
Given the spectacular day, I decide to meander out from Grand Central figuring I will walk awhile and eventually grab a cab to Broadway and 68th.
Strolling up Fifth Avenue, memories greet me at every block. There are some of my Dad, yes, but also many others.
Rockefeller Center: Thanksgiving Eve with my Sister and her family, stumbling upon Tony Bennett taping a performance in front of the Tree.
Bergdorf Goodman: dining at the lunch counter with a dear client who has since passed.
I catch myself smiling often as the memories flash by. I keep walking.
While in Central Park it strikes me that every boyfriend I have had has walked with me in Central Park. I find this both interesting and apropos. To love me is to love New York.
I never do catch that cab.
Entering the Upper West Side from Central Park I anticipate pain. Most of the memories of my Dad are in this neighborhood, from the time he first brought me to New York when I was 19 to the last time he was here in October. To my surprise I don’t feel overcome by sadness. Instead I feel comfort. Being here is a tiny bit like being with him. I can’t quite describe it.
There is a pang when I walk by Julliard and picture him at the store thumbing through sheet music with intensity. This was a regular stop for us as he loved buying sheet music almost as much as books.
Another pang as I see the Apple Store that once was Tower Records, another regular stop. But the pain fades again to comfort. It is ok.
I arrive at the theatre, pick up my ticket and start to feel true excitement. Soon I will be spending time, once again, with these characters and this story that I love.
My stomach growls so I take my place in line at the concession stand, unsure of what to get. When I spot a bag of peanut M&Ms, it all becomes clear. This was our intermission snack of choice when going to shows. I can picture my Dad pulling the bag from his coat pocket with delight.
I am early enough to claim the perfect seat and settle in with ease. Being in a theatre is like being at home. I watch the seats fill up, all of them, and feel happy to be among kindred spirits.
It has been a good day.
The lights fade and I breathe in.
Here we go.