It has been a little over two years since I have been out in a movie theatre because of COVID. Even when theatres opened up, I was hesitant to head out. However, an independent theatre in Ottawa – Ottawa Bytowne Cinema – has decided to continue with requiring proof of vaccination and the requirement to wear a mask while in the theatre. Those precautions helped me feel comfortable moving out into a larger gathering. One movie appealed to me – a coming of age story set in the San Fernando Valley in 1973, entitled Licorice Pizza. It sounded like a sweet story, plus it had the added benefit of a 4 pm start time. It felt like I was sneaking out of work early to meet someone special – who could be more special than myself.
I debated whether heading to the movies on my own counted as a date. I find it interesting when I bump into my own assumptions and “rules” about what can and cannot count as a date and the self-judgment I have about it all. When I notice myself doing that, I take a pause and just look at that behaviour or thought and try and figure out why that is floating around in my consciousness at all. No one is making the rules except myself, I can declare anything I do a date if I want!
With a movie, I know what catches me in this thinking about date or not a date mindset. Pre-pandemic I went to the movies on my own all the time. I also went fairly regularly with other friends and occasionally it was the focus of a date night activity. I would often go on my own to the movies because I would decide that I wanted to see a particular movie at a particular time and I didn’t want to negotiate with anybody about it. I didn’t want to take the chance that I would call up a friend and invite them to join me for the movie, and they would say that they would love to go to the movies, but they would prefer to see something else. I am also an accommodator extraordinaire in my life and if that happened, I would more often than not, accommodate to their interests and see that movie instead. As a result, if I really wanted to see something, I often went on my own.
So, going to the movies on my own is not necessarily a self-date guarantee. What I realized is that I would go to the movies sometimes with friends (or on my own), or with a date. What would make it a date, instead of it being a movie with a friend? Well, the feeling that I had for the “date” person is what made it a date. Therefore, if I decided with the intention that this was a date, then I could make going to the movies on my own a date night experience, rather than an evening of heading out on my own to see a movie.
I left work early in order to make the 4 pm movie showing and treated myself to paid parking rather than driving around the streets looking for free street parking. A date night is worth the splurge on paid parking. The movie itself was enjoyable and I enjoyed the acting performances and the seventies vibe captured in the cinematography. I reflected on the fact that the movie involved a 15 year old boy’s infatuation and friendship with a 25 year old woman and were the genders reversed, I think critics would have found this a particularly troubling dynamic. That perspective troubled me all through the film and honestly distracted me from the overall enjoyment of the movie and I am not sure I would have chosen to see it had I know the age dynamic. There is nothing sexual in the film, but the boy is clearly pursuing the young woman and at the end of the film she tells him that she loves him and they kiss. The age dynamic is more than uncomfortable.
I enjoyed my time out seeing a movie in public for the first time in over two years. Coming to the end of the evening, I realized that I appreciated the opportunity to be watching movies on the big screen – which I really enjoy – and realized that contrary to my comments at the beginning of this blog, going to the movies is really not one of my favourite date nights to do with someone else. I enjoy going to the movies with friends and definitely enjoy going to the movies on my own. My most recent partner was not really interested in going to the movies, so I don’t think we went to a single movie together. I think I have enjoyed going to the movies with a date, but it is so long since that actually happened, that I think my mindset has slotted going to the movies as a solo activity. But does that mean it counts or doesn’t count as a date for myself?
I think I land on that it does count as a date night with myself because it is about doing something that I chose completely for myself without consideration of anyone else. However, I don’t see the movie date as something that really “woos” or “romances” myself, and not every date needs to achieve that goal. What I have enjoyed in these first 5 dates that I have had with myself is the focus and attention to ME. Beyond going on the actual dates themselves, I have really appreciated the time and space that I have created for myself to look for events, experiences, activities that engage and interest me. Some of this energy comes with activities opening up at this stage of our COVID19 pandemic management, but more of it is about creating with intentionality time on my own that is doing things that are not related to my work, not related to volunteer commitments and not related to family obligations.
I started this adventure in dating myself because I wanted to reclaim aspects of my life from my work and my family obligations that felt like they were taking up all the space in my life. I was feeling the weight and the pressure of all those demands and I was not sure how to lighten that load. It felt overwhelming and I wanted to shift that energy. Taking myself on these dates and planning activities that are completely removed from my day to day work and family obligations is creating a different energy for me. I am also being reminded, as well as learning new things about what is engaging for me, so that when I am ready to begin that process of being open to a new partner, I will have so much more clarity around what I hope to share with them as interests, what I really want to continue to enjoy (mostly) on my own and where there is curiosity for learning and trying new things together.
Overall, the date itself I would rate a 6/10. Learnings and reflections about what is important to me, 10/10. Money spent on this date was a total of $15 for the movie, $15 on snacks and $10 on parking ($40 total).