A shred of normalcy can finally be found in 2020. I’ve done this what has felt like thousands of times in my life since the ’90s.

It felt familiar and foreign at the same time. The empty lobby echoes canned music playing overhead in what used to be our teenage stomping grounds.

Masks on, we walked up to the ticket booth encased in Plexiglas as we’ve always done before.

“Two for 5:30 please,” and we choose our seats from the computer screen as it blocks out the surrounding rows. The slots where movie times and titles would be displayed normally are shrouded in a black cover and replaced with mask reminders.

We walk straight to concessions, first and only in line, and purchase drinks. The cups still have marketing for “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which was set for release in February. I suppose that moment has come and gone.

Making our way to the theater to find our seats, the lights are on and we sit down to remove our masks, quickly realizing we’re probably going to be the only ones there. This isn’t an unusual phenomenon at the Cinemark 12 in Texas City at what used to be the Mall of the Mainland, but it was very unusual on a Friday night holiday weekend for a new-release film.

It turns out to be a good thing that we’re the only ones in there for us. Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” is an enjoyable, if confusing film. The freedom to ask questions out loud without whispering felt like we were at home; however, I missed the feeling of laughter, shock or gasps with fellow moviegoers.

I wanted to pause the 150-minute film for a bathroom break, but I remembered I wasn’t in my living room.

For two and a half hours, I forgot it was 2020. I can see how the magic of the cinema is a form of escapism for Americans in the past. I imagine it would’ve been a welcome distraction during times of war or economic downturn.

As the credits rolled and we gathered our trash, I almost walked out of the theater forgetting to put on my mask. I was quickly brought back to the “new normal.”

Go to the movies this weekend and buy some popcorn. Let’s pretend it’s 2019 for two hours.

Charity Emmite lives in Dickinson.


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