Well, I'm back from my trip. I saw beautiful colored leaves, I ate fresh tart apples and cheese curds. I got my fall fix. Now I'm back in SF where the seasons change from week to week without ever really settling on one.
I went to see a movie today. Yes, something I do reasonably often, in fact the second time in 3 days. I went to the Metreon. The last time I went to the Metreon on a Saturday for a movie the trip there was the problem. This time, the Metreon was the problem.
I went to see From Hell about Jack the Ripper, Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. Mmm, Johnny Depp.... He could read the phone book and I would sit rapt. Anyway, it was going pretty well, I was enjoying it, I had my Diet Pepsi and a snack I'd bought at Walgreens (I'm economizing these days, much to my dismay, and Metreon priced soda and popcorn is not in the budget).
Then about 1/2 an hour from the end of the movie the screen goes dark. There's the sound of an alarm. I thought it was part of the movie for a moment. Then this bright flash of light started coming from the side of the theater. I looked at it thinking it was an usher or a cop with a flashlight. Then people started leaving. Eventually it sunk in that it was a fire alarm. I didn't think twice, just grabbed my stuff and started hurrying out with everyone else. There was a time I would have thought twice.
The guy behind me said, "Wow, everyone's really leaving. It's a different world these days." And we didn't just leave through the theater doors into the lobby, we all went out the exit doors and out into the streets. We couldn't be too careful.
It all worked out ok in the end, I wandered back into the Metreon after I saw people on the first floor still filling the stores and restaurants and I figured the place wasn't going to explode or anything. After waiting awhile for a refund, they said we could go back to the theaters and finish our movies, which I did.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the climate of our country, as I suppose everyone else has. I keep thinking how maddening it is that the little things we do in life, open mail, go to movies, fly on planes; have all been tinged with fear. I can't get on a plane without having nightmares about terrorists. I can't pick up the mail at work without thinking it feels gritty and worrying about anthrax. I can't go to the movies and just ignore the fire alarm as a child's prank, which is probably what it turned out to be this time. It's incredibly sad.
Then I think what it must be like to have grown up in Afghanistan, or black in South Africa, or in the former Yugoslavia, or Iran, or Iraq, or Lebanon, or Libya...
We're new to our fear, which is why we're so angry about it. There are those who never knew anything else. I'll take my fear over their fear any day. It's still ugly, but at least it's not something I think about every second of every day of my life. And that's still something.