Dear readers who contain galaxies and memories,
Yesterday was my dear friend Michael’s birthday. I met him when I was a youngling at only 19 years old, which makes him one of my longest standing friendships. He’s helped me through some of the very worst parts of my life, so I’m very thankful that he was born.
I met Michael and a few months later I also met Aaron (who is now my boyfriend). Aaron, Michael and I quickly became similar to the 3 Musketeers. Fucking hell, that’s cliche. Forget that. Let’s say we were more like Shaun, Liz and Ed from Shaun of the Dead. Yeah, that’s better. (Aaron and Michael: Which of us is which? Eleanore: NOT REALLY THE POINT HERE YOU GUYS). It became our tradition to watch movies together every weekend we got the chance, and our theater of choice was always Camera 12. I’m actually not sure why or how this began. Maybe it was because we enjoyed the fact that it had three levels and barely any people. Maybe it was that the tickets were slightly cheaper than elsewhere. Or maybe there’s no reasoning at all. Truthfully, there doesn’t need to be; it became our theater.
For about a year until Aaron moved back to St. Louis, the three of would sit in mostly empty theater. We would watch good movies and bad movies, and I’d spend most of the time whispering to them both, “Oh my god can you not?” Because both their laughs and commentaries were so loud I thought they might reverberate off a fault line and cause a quake. They both loved it. They also had a remarkable talent of taking everything I said and rephrasing it so that I sounded like more of an asshole than I already am, which they took great pride in as I rolled my eyes and whacked them both on the arms.
More often than not I was convinced the main reason they wanted me to come along was because we would hide snacks and drinks in my purse. It got to the point where Aaron would often remind me, “bring your big purse!” and if I didn’t or happened to forget, my partners in crime were truly disappointed…until they remembered their hoodie pockets were big enough to stow away cans of Monster. Psh. Amateurs.
On lovely nights after the movies, we’d roam a little bit downtown, admiring the rainbow christmas lights that always hung from the sidewalk lamps regardless of what season it was. We would walk underneath the tallest buildings, and look up at the lights, theorizing about what Knight Ridder meant and what types of devious things probably happened in that ever so creepy building. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s this:
It’s very Hollywood Tower of Terror-eqsque, especially in the dark. Of course, we could have just Googled what the building was for, but let’s be honest. That’s not nearly as fun.
After Aaron suddenly moved away, Michael and I did not stop the tradition. We were movie buddies, plain and simple, and we ended up filling the void Aaron left us with In-N-Out Burger dinners before each film. Considering In-N-Out was the only place in the entire city I could safely eat, and Michael unlike most of my friends never seemed to tire of eating there with me, neither of us had complaints (because our mouths were filled with delicious burgers).
At one point in my life I basically fell off the face of the Earth. I got engaged to a man who was not at all my soulmate. He was controlling and had other negative attributes that made it difficult to do anything without him. I lost contact with most of my friends except for the friends he and I shared, and for nearly two years I was utterly miserable and somewhat non-existent. Now two years after the end of all that, I still deeply regret not trying harder to stay in touch with Michael. For every movie I saw with my evil ex-boyfriend, I would have much rather have been at the Camera 12 with one of my dearest friends instead. I’ve said it before for and I’ll say it a thousand times more; Michael, for this part of my life, I truly am sorry.
Thankfully after that clusterfuck we got back to it. In-N-Out and movies, usually on Sunday Nights. It was made even better by the fact that since Michael began working at Psycho Donuts, he was able to get tickets for free. Of course that was a plus, especially since I was working three jobs in order to save up enough money to move here to St. Louis. Even if I had to pay for every one of those tickets, it would have been worth it.
Our tradition carried on until a few weeks before I moved. My family was being horrible as ever, I was not fully recovered from my hysterectomy, and I was altogether stressed beyond my limit. In a moment of perfect timing, Michael brought me an adorable stuffed Baymax from Big Hero 6, who I consider to be a sick Eleanore’s perfect companion.
It was equally perfect that the last movie we ever saw together was Inside Out, a film about a young girl who has to deal with her emotions as she moves away from her hometown. I was in so much pain and so burned out that I spent half the movie laying my head on Michael’s shoulder, because the pain from my hysterectomy and the sickness that came with the rest of my chronic illnesses was simply too much to handle. (Click the blue things to see my posts about each subject after!) Oh yeah, and then the whole thing of me crying through several parts of the movie, considering it was basically about my exact circumstance. We later agreed Inside Out may not have been the best choice to watch right before a friend moves away from another.
I was extremely frustrated that by the end of the night I felt so sick and so engulfed in pain that I could hardly walk. We staggered to my car, and I tried to wait it all out, but instead broke down into a mess of tears. We ended up having to call my other friends to take us home because I had finally lost all functioning capability and felt simply done for. It was clearly not the ending to the day that I had wanted.
As I said in the beginning, yesterday was Michael’s birthday. It was also the day that our Facebook timelines were suddenly were swelled with posts about the Camera 12 shutting down. Michael txted me about it, and though neither of us were surprised because the place never got much business and wasn’t in the greatest shape, it was where Michael, Aaron and I spend so much of our time. For Aaron and I, it was where we escaped our abusive homes. It was our rocket ship to imaginative places that hurt less than our reality. For the three of us, it just always seemed to be where we belonged.
As for Michael and I, this theater holds even more memories for us. It’s where we once ate 75% of an entire box of See’s Candies because that particular day my depression was taking me over. It’s where we sat after credits countless times, either because we were waiting for a secret ending, or because the movie had made me cry so much I had to compose myself before walking out. It’s where we almost always got the seats in front of the railings so that we could put our feet up, and feel just a little bit cooler than everyone else. Each of those memories have had a part in creating who I am. But the most wonderful thing about memories is that regardless of what that building becomes, even if it is reduced to rubble, it will still be a landmark of our friendship in our minds. That may not be much, but it’s enough for me.
Thank you Camera 12 for your three stories of escalators that lifted us to our seats, where my darling friends and I could enjoy some of the best (and worst) movies you had to offer.
And thank you Michael, for, well, everything.
All right! We did not die today, I call that an unqualified success.
~Fear, Inside Out