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.
5 Responses to Pilgrimage
With tears in my eyes, but happiness in my heart, I am very thankful that the city you so love filled you up with good memories and comfort instead of sadness. I’m pretty sure your Dad was matching you step for step that day.
Are you going to leave us hanging? What did you think of the movie?
Thank you Lisa. And … the film is great. But that is ALL I am saying. I will happily talk about it in detail with anyone who has seen it!!
What a wonderful way to remember your Dad & honor him. I imagine him smiling as he walked along withyou.
Thank you Madre.
Since writing this I have learned that Before Midnight opened in only 5 theatres in the country on May 24. Two in LA, two in NY and one in Austin. Wide release coming soon so you will get your chance!
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