Sipping my child-sized soda, a soda the size of a small child, I watch as the previews commence. One after the other, the movies look less and less interesting. Even as I nudge the elbow of my friend to tell her that I want to see the new Power Rangers movie, to which she responds with a definitive “no”, I realize I only want to see it for the nostalgia factor of growing up watching the Power Rangers.
And, as the movie begins, I am filled with more nostalgia. I’m distracted from what is going on onscreen. Memories flood.
Nights in a white Ford Taurus watching a hazy movie screen as the film begins at one of the very few American drive-in theaters remaining. The drive-in always seemed to start the movie too soon, which made the first part of the movie impossible to see.
The sound was of mixed quality when from the dangling speakers that could be attached to the side of the car. Yet, when relying on just the audio from the car itself, it wasn’t half bad. It was no Warren Theater with George Lucas approved THX surround sound, but this was before that time.
Regardless, the ability to lean back in a car, enjoy a Taco Bell Burrito Supreme, and as much popcorn as you could bring from home made it worth it. Planes would buzz overhead throughout the movie’s runtime. At the end of the first picture, a classic, animated advertisement reel encouraging patrons to visit the lobby for snacks would run, and if you were lucky, you could sneak up to the door of the projector room and watch the staff member load on the next film, watching the projector spin the reel to create lights and sounds.
In the present, I try to watch as Logan decapitates and dismembers the would-be villains, but I am drawn back to the past. I am drawn back trying to figure out where I saw X-Men. I mean, I know I saw it at the drive-in, but who was there? When was it? I puzzle this out as I meet new and familiar faces in the newest X-Men universe flick, but I am still stuck in the past.
Did X-Men come out before Godzilla? I remember sitting in the car in, wrapped in a towel after a long day of swimming at my grandparents’ as Godzilla rampaged through Manhattan, but did X-Men come before that?
No, it had to be after.
In a normal moment, I could just google when the film came out, and I could set my childhood timeline right in my mind. Yet, at the moment, I am at the the theater, and I won’t be rude.
So, instead of figuring out how the woman from Orange is the New Black relates to Logan, I am trying to sort through when I saw the X-Men that started the franchise. It had to be after Godzilla.
And, I remember wanting to stay to watch Titan A.E., the second feature following X-Men. We stayed halfway through, but my brother was already asleep. And, my mom had worked a full week teaching, so I resorted to peering out the window trying to catch glimpses of the terrible animated film as we leave before it ends. As we pulled onto the highway, we could still hear the movie crackling through the car’s speakers before it faded to static.
As the action plays out onscreen and soda is sipped, my entire childhood continues to be framed in a different light.
If I had come out as transgender then, would I still have the memory of fogging up the glass of the white Taurus as I try to catch the last glimpse of a bizarre, animated flick about the end of Earth?
As my family fears me writing about them in my blog, as my paternal side of my family determines my words are derogatory and thoughts satanic, as my maternal side struggles to accept who I am and am uninvited from my first family event, I wonder; what would have come of my life if I had said something then?
Would I still have gone to New York City to see countless musicals and one in particular where my grandmother shouted out the next lyric in the song to a dead-quiet theater during a performance of The Wedding Singer?
Would I still have become Regional Champion for a dramatic performance that elicited laughter and at the end of the night to stand on stage wondering why was my name not called for 8th place?
Would I still have spent countless hours in my room, neck deep in legos building and rebuilding endless worlds and ships and houses for the denizens of Legoland?
What would have remained?
What would I have become?
Would I have survived?
These thoughts and more swirl in my mind as Logan, X-23, and Professor X make a daring escape and flee to, of all places, Oklahoma City.
My soda is nearly empty. The theater is too warm for a cool spring day, and the weight of all this and my fears of the future prevent me, for the moment, from enjoying Chuck’s psychic seizure on the screen. As Logan eviscerates the government agents and the all-powerful company-owned killers, I watch, trying to focus on the fiction playing out before me, to push away the reality of the moment and of the past, for just a moment, to escape.