Some people are content with seeing a highly anticipated movie the weekend of its opening. I, on the other hand, am not. There’s something about the energy of a crowd that has waited hours in line until the clock strikes midnight to build adrenaline and enthusiasm. “Lord of the Rings” definitely had me on a strange routine. I would go home and nap for several hours before we would set out to jump into the fray, flanked by Galadriel-clad fairies and Legolas-legged elves. My sidekick Olga and I met a guy in line for “The Two Towers” who had visited J.R.R. Tolkien’s grave in the motherland and was all geeked out. We waited outside of this beautiful old art-deco movie house in the chilly evening air and scampered to our seats, once they tore our tickets. Gilded reliefs of 1920’s style angels and scrollwork donned the walls above the red velvet curtain separating us from the screen. Collectively, we whooped and hollered as the ents took down traitorous Saruman and left the theater close to 3 a.m. groggy and yet thoroughly energized.
This same art deco theater has been purchased by an old folks agency and cordoned off for several months. I kept having visions of how they would use the space- for meetings or perhaps private showings of Cocoon. My last trip took me away from the city for three weeks. I was suprised to see, driving to the convention center the other day, a gaping hole replacing the once sturdy wall, separating the parking lot from the movie house. Somehow I had hoped and thought they would restore it to its former beauty. Wishful thinking, I see now. From the hole, the building’s vulnerability showed, like a woman with her skirt accidentally tucked into her pantyhose. The guts of the building stirred a sadness of our need to destroy and replace. Today, it was gone, now a socket of space and air. And it occurred to me that perhaps what has happened to this building can happen to us. It takes months of planning and organizing to build a structure and only a little while to destroy. We have to be careful with each other. Our time together is short enough already.