How can you relive the delight and memory of a first time?
By continually chasing the unique or vicariously through the eyes of someone else’s first time, poor substitute though that may be.
The theater was over the top decor hinting of Hollywood, though that’s not important to a three-year-old. But it’s part of the memory—the place. The carpet, the brass, the cardboard cutouts of upcoming movies, the grandiose posters looking down as we hurried by. The carpeted red-light tunnel breaking open to first sight of the big screen.
I pushed down a seat for him, his weight just enough to hold it. The lights dimmed and the screen lit with images. He sat immobile clasping his hands and watching the movement on the screen. And I watched him. Was it awe on his face? Amazement? Fascination? Fear? What was he thinking as he sat in a dark room with strangers? He didn’t laugh or show the pleasure of movies on the small screen. I chuckled at dialogue that referenced things not in his memory. The mother and daughter in our row got up and left so he moved to the seat on the other side of me. He folded himself up like an accordion in the seat. I feared his legs being squeezed. Then it was over.
He rushed to greet his mother at the door and told her we ate pizza. Nothing else. “Did you see a movie?” she asked. He was silent as she asked questions. “What was the big animal in the movie?” I asked. “A giraffe?” he answered. Had he watched Ferdinand, the bull who loved to smell the flowers and rejected the life he was bred to lead? Had he not liked the movie or was the theater and the screen and the strangers overload?
It was a first for both of us. Not what I envisioned, but this is my story. Someday I want to hear his.