Friday, July 20, 2012

Don't tell us how moonrise kingdom ends...

Last night James and I had a date night, thanks to Kelly, her friend Alison, and my mom, who created a nail-painting extravaganza to occupy the kids while we went to dinner and a movie.

It was really wonderful.  We hardly ever get to go out together, so we made the most of our time by just spending it together and enjoying the (uninterrupted) company.  We budgeted time for a dessert course our stomachs weren't up for, so we ended up arriving at the cineplex significantly early, and just sat in the empty theater and talked for about an hour before the film actually started (Late, I might add, but we didn't actually mind alll that much).

About half an hour or so into the film, everything suddenly cut out.  It was black and silent for a split second before a backup generator hopped to its task and the emergency lights came on.  We could hear a muffled rumbling behind the walls, and for a short while we thought just our screen had gone dark, and the noise was from a movie being played next door.

There was some confusion as to what was going on and whether the show would be resuming, but after a few minutes James and I decided to go see if what we were hearing was indeed just sounds from another theater or the source of some concern...and as we rounded the corner to the glass-fronted lobby, we were greeted with the spectacular sight of a brilliantly pink sky overwhelming everything but the deep purple clouds, which were billowing at great speed, producing so much lightning that the sky was almost never dark.  The rumbling we heard was thunder, which had seemed unlikely sitting in the cavernous theater, but here in the open (and yes, we did, probably stupidly, go outside briefly...I was considering just throwing in the towel and heading home to my babies, but it was way too unsafe to go anywhere) it was clear- there were so many strikes that each clap rolled over the last to create an unbroken wall of sound.

Last night's storm interrupts our local minor league baseball game, as captured by photographer Michael Kitchen
Then the theater's employees herded everyone back inside, and told us all to take shelter in theater 10.  The tornado siren had sounded, so no one was going anywhere, and things got somewhat surreal as I turned to go back into the theater.  The lights were still out, save the ER spots which gave just a bit of ghostly glow, and the whole place was decked out in honor of the opening night of The Dark Knight Rises ...Grey and black streamers, bats, and other gotham-esque decorations were everywhere, and they had literally filled the hallway with grey and black balloons, and the ribbons were hanging down almost to the floor, so you actually had to clear a way through them with your hands as you went along.

To add to all of this black-scale balloon jungle in the dark atmosphere, as I stepped through the door someone came around the corner in full Joker regalia, completely in character, mimicking Ledger's beautifully creepy mannerisms well enough that I was thoroughly creeped out when he started trying to control the crowd and direct them.  James had gone to the bathroom at some point, so I was waiting for him in the hallway as more and more costumed characters appeared and began interacting with the crowd in character.  At some point Batman replaced the joker as the one directing people to the safe theater, and there was a noticeable uptick in the number of people who actually followed.  I began to worry that the kids would be scared in this huge storm without mom & dad, and began trying to reach mom and kelly.

James emerged from the crowd and we followed to find a place to settle in the designated theater.  Some of the folks who had been camping outside the building in anticipation of the premiere had simply moved their tents onto the floor in front of the screen, and some of the balloons had escaped into the screening room as was an odd atmosphere.  I started piecing together fun ways to spin what we were experiencing, being trapped in a dark theater with a bunch of comic book villains, bizarre landscapes, dangerous weather and all, seeming like a real-life horror movie or something...I even composed some pithy descriptions in both my facebook and twitter accounts, but something stopped me.  I don't know why I shied away from posting about our 'dangerous predicament', but it just didn't feel right.

We were having trouble reaching anyone at home, and realized that neither of us had Alison's number...but then, out of the dark, I heard a familiar voice.  James heard it was most definitely Joe, another of Kelly & Alison's friends.  He was there, somewhere, in the dark...and he may be able to help us reach our children...Then I started noticing that a whole lot of the costumed wranglers seemed familiar, and all of a sudden I realized these were all my sister's friends.  I started to chase them down to get Alison's number, but then I was suddenly on the phone with Kelly, who said things were mostly fine and the kids were chillin' in the basement with Nana, drinking root beer and not worried at all.

Eventually they announced that they'd give free passes to everyone except batman ticket holders, since they were still hopeful that the premiere (at this point still 3 hours away) would be able to go on, and James and I decided to take the opportunity to peace out.  It was still way blustery and wet, but the lightning and thunder were a bit more distant and no longer right on top of us, and at this point I needed my kids and James had exceeded his allotted non-studying time and then some...

We drove home through totally dark streets.  The power was out everywhere and major intersections had become terrifying free for alls. (well, 6 laned 4-way stops...ew.)  It was also gorgeous. The lightning was striking all around, still fairly constant, huge, multicolored strikes lighting up the landscape like fireworks...

We made it home safely, hugged our kids, and felt relieved.

Then this morning I heard about what happened in Aurora, CO last night and I was suddenly really glad I hadn't posted those melodramatic tweets and updates.  In the face of the true tragedy that happened there, my silly musings would have seemed trite and even offensive...My heart goes out to everyone who's lives were effected by the horrible events at their premiere, especially to the children who were hurt or killed...

Today has been an odd day.  I've tried to avoid losing myself in the coverage of this horrible crime, but I find myself oddly touched by it.  It brings my attention back to the importance of love and family, and how easily and unexpectedly something could go awry and take it all away...

It's not the type of day I would have chosen to put my husband on a plane, knowing I won't get to see him for an indefinite amount of time, but that's what I had to do. It feels like the first signal that this is the end of this chapter...Dad left to spend some time with Pat & Scott out in OR a little while ago, but that seemed like a summer trip and didn't trigger my end-times response the way this does.  Soon summer will be over and I'll have to move the girls and cats to DC, Kelly will be off to college, and mom will be back to relying on nearby friends and neighbors day in and day out - which, as much as I am grateful for it, is not what I want for her, or what I feel comfortable with...but we have to wait on the results of her next scan before we know what the next steps will be anyway.  It's just a hard-hitting sort of emotional day.

Last night's storm as captured by photographer Alex Slitz for the Daily News
 But at least I can hold these girls close and try to make sure they know how much I love them, and hope they feel safe and comforted by that.