The two best things I did after breaking up with my ex were to get a gym subscription and a Cineville card. For those unfamiliar with the subject, a Cineville card gives you unlimited access to movies in several theatres across the Netherlands in exchange for a monthly fee.
Although both helped considerably, it’s the latter that brought more satisfaction than anything else. I like to say the Cineville card saved my life. When I was most inconsolable, I would put on my boots and leather jacket, take the tram from Surinameplein direction centre, and go to the movies. To me, this was therapy.
Most of the times, I would end up at Cinecenter. I preferred this cinema not only because it was small and charming, but also because it was conveniently located on a side street behind Leidseplein, so there was not much to walk from the tram stop.
Once inside, I would go to the bar, pick up a drink, then go and find a seat in the room.
Some of the best movies I can remember I’ve seen there, at the Cinecenter, with my Cineville card. To name but a few: Medianeras, The Future, Diana Freeland: The Eye Has to Travel, Yves Saint Laurent: L’ amour fou, and the list could go on.
No matter how messed up my life – and my heart – there was my Cineville card, and with it, I learned beauty, I learned hope, I learned I was not the only one alone at the movies.
Upon returning home from Cinecenter one evening, I wrote this:
Perhaps the most valuable skill I have is the ability to transform the way I see things, to such extent that I can perceive a simple moment as pure magic. Tonight I’ve been for a few minutes the only person in the cinema hall. Lights were hanging as pearls from the ceiling, music came my way from the speakers, the empty screen was waiting to tell a story, and the glass of wine in my hand was getting empty. A perfect moment. The movie – The Future, with Miranda July – another beautiful story. The wow kind of story. I feel like seeing it a thousand more times. “You’ll be watching television and I’ll be watching you.”
The feeling of floating stayed with me as I stepped out of the cinema, at the end of the movie. I had one unread message on my phone, but I didn’t want to read it. I didn’t feel like coming back to reality yet. I didn’t come back even as I was reading the message when I finished my cigarette: “Hey, I took what I needed from the loft. I left the light on, by the armchair. I found some chairs on the street, really nice ones, so I’m no longer taking the chairs. I hope the movie is/was ok. Good night.” The message from my ex made me smile, although I was miles away from happy. “Hey, good night,” was all I could say. Then I went back to my place. (29 SEP 2011)
I was thinking about this last night when I was again at the Cinecenter, with the same Cineville card, in the very same room described above. I had to look up at those lights hanging from the ceiling. To me, they’re almost hallucinogenic. It was as if looking through a tunnel, at the end of which my old self was waiting – the girl hiding a broken heart under a black leather jacket. Maybe some things are never meant to be forgotten.
And then the movie starts. The setting, the two, the encounter. The heart beating faster, the nights sleepless with desire. And desire. And desire. When your eyes are focused on the desired one and everything else is blurry. Finally, love happens. It is uncontrollable, it is like magic, it is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to you. Your lover becomes you and you become your lover. “Call me by your name!” You kiss, you make love, you kiss, you make love. You talk on repeat about the delicious first moments when he said… or he did…, and you said… or you did…, and none of you knew what the other one thought and would have given anything to find out. You watch him sleeping. You cannot believe how happy you two are. When he is away, you wear his shirt – his skin against yours. With love comes the fear of loss, and eventually, loss. When you realize it is over for good, pain becomes the only way you can cope with life. The loss of the loved one. The realization that never again you two will touch, kiss or make love. And there is no consolation for that. All you can do is cry and remember. “I remember everything.” And when you smile again it is because you realize just how lucky you were to have found love – even if in the past tense.
Of course, such movie can shake everyone in possession of a heart and a past. That’s what good art does. It brings essential things up to the surface again. It reminds us we are human, and that together we can do magic.
Every now and then something like this happens in my life and it makes me so damn happy.