Friday, December 24, 2010

We Interrupt Your Previously Scheduled Program

I left the house last week to go see a movie.  I'd wanted to see the new Harry Potter movie for weeks.  We just hadn't had the time.  Teaching, grading, childbirth classes, prenatal yoga, meetings, parties, dinners with friends.  The end of November and beginning of December were just too full of things to do.

And then Eliza was born and everything stopped.

I had no classes to teach.  No papers to grade.  Nothing to do.  No reason to get up.

Everything I'd planned on, everything I'd looked forward to was gone.  The days were blank and empty and agonizing.

So we decided to go to the movies.

I didn't want to leave the house, but I knew I would have to eventually.  Going to a dark theater were I wouldn't have to interact with strangers seemed like a safe bet.

I wanted to throw up in the car on the way to the theater.  What was I doing?  Was I trying to enjoy myself?  What was the point in seeing this movie?

I needn't have worried about enjoying myself because I didn't.  The movie didn't seem good to me, having just reread the book, I kept thinking about all of the good parts they were leaving out.  Mostly I thought about Eliza and I cried silently in the theater, clutching David's arm.

About two-thirds of the way through the film, the screen suddenly went dark.  Which of course meant that the entire theater was plunged into darkness.  A strobe light started flashing and a siren started wailing and a loud mechanical voice filled the room, "An emergency has been detected.  Please proceed to the nearest exit."

We all got up and fled to the lobby, where the teenagers in black vests assured everyone it was a mistake and if we'd just wait a moment they would get the films started again.  And they did.

We stood in the lobby, waiting.  David's face was pale.  He hugged me and said, "Well, that was kinda scary."  I felt bad for him.  As if he needed yet another reminder that life is ridiculously fragile and the unexpected can happen at any moment.

But I felt, for few minutes there, that it was easier to breathe.  Because this is precisely what should be happening.  Life can't just go on without my baby.  We can't just go to the movies and pretend for a little while that we are fine.  There should be darkness and sirens and flashing lights and emergency announcements.  Nothing is normal, nothing is okay, everyone should be on their guard.  While the lights flashed and the siren wailed, it was like everything I felt inside was suddenly manifested in the theater.  Yes we are experiencing a goddamn emergency, thank you very much.


  1. Quite right. It is a bl**dy emergency. And yet everyone around you goes on as if nothing has happened. It's awful and it won't change. You just get more "immune" to it.

  2. yes. and other people just don't understand that everything is supposed to have stopped. it's horrible.

    sometimes crying in the dark in a movie theatre is easier than crying at home in the light. or at the very least different enough to give a different kind of relief. i used to go to starbucks and sit and cry there instead of being at home and crying.

    much love xx

  3. I just wish you didn't have to know any of this. My heart is heavy for you.