There is a feeling I hold from my youth. A feeling that stayed completely consistent through grade school, middle school, high school, and even college. I remember it perfectly and sometimes have what I call “snapshot” dreams of it.
It’s the feeling of the process of leaving the movie theater at Hollywood Connection (or even the Carmike 15 [now AMC as I’m told]) in Columbus, Georgia.
The lights come up. You stand up. You’re bloated, a bit tired, and a little eager to get out of here whether you’ve had a good time or not. There’s this grimy feeling of butter oil coating the inside of your mouth that you kind of like. You saunter downstairs and leave in a steady stream with everybody, dumping your huge extra large drink cup and wadded-up popcorn bag into the trash tube. And no matter which theater you ended up in, you don’t go out the main entrance. You go down the hall and hit the side hallway that leads directly out to the parking lot. As you turn down this hallway, afternoon light beams in from these doors (you got a matinee ticket because you’re a kid, and you’re poor) and it’s completely off putting. You just spent what feels like hours with the characters in the movie, so it doesn’t feel like it should still be day. It feels like it should be definitely night. It feels like this to the point that you don’t really accept the afternoon until you throw open those doors and step onto the sidewalk and feel the air conditioning rush against your t-shirted back, making the t-shirt flutter against you a bit as the air-con fights with the light breeze outside while the warm Georgia sun takes you in and drinks deep of you whether you want her to or not. And you’re slightly amazed that it’s still daylight out and that this part of you that refused to believe that is still wrong. It’s similar to the feeling of waking up in somebody elses’ house as a kid and being instantly confused and forgetting where it is you are except you’re totally there and aware. And then there’s the smell as well. That kind of distant smell that’s a mix of pine and ever-so-faint engine exhaust from GA-80 just to your right.
I still dream that scene that I must have lived a hundred times even now. Clear as day. I have no idea why exactly.