The familiar warm rush of popcorn-flavored air calms your nerves a bit as you get in line for the ticket booth. You squint at the movie times, even though you’ve already picked out what you plan to see. The line inches forward and the couple in front of you seem all too comfortable in such a public place. You pull out your phone as nonchalantly as possible and check Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram. Nothing has changed much in the past 5 minutes.
A gaggle of teenagers enter the building with the aura of pure noise that always seems to surround immaturity and hormones. You keep your eyes glued to your phone as they shuffle into line behind you. Making sure to avoid any eye contact, you glance towards the doors as if you’re waiting for someone. You’re not.
You finally reach the ticket box. The cashier greets you in a bored voice and asks what you would like to see. You grin sheepishly and tell her: one ticket. Supremely disinterested, she prints out a ticket and hands it to you. You say thanks and lift the ticket in a half-hearted salute. She ignores you.
You buy some popcorn, realizing that you don’t have to share it with anyone. You could get used to this.
You reach your theater, popcorn and soda in hand. It’s partially filled, but it doesn’t matter. You have your choice of seats. No need to worry about the rest of your party if you don’t have a party. You pick the seat you want and sit down. Glancing around, nobody seems remotely interested in you. Nobody cares and nobody judges. You relax.
You take out your phone and after a moment’s consideration, you turn it off and put it away. It’s a solo movie experience, after all, so you might as well make the solitude complete. Strangely, you feel more at ease knowing that your phone won’t distract you, even though it’s only the previews.
The movie begins. You find yourself drawn into the movie, more so than usual. There’s nobody to offer popcorn to, you’re not looking over to gauge your friends’ reactions. You can laugh as loud as you want to at the jokes, use both armrests if you’d like, don’t have to figure out whose straw it is you’re sucking. You can simply watch the movie.
The movie ends and everyone gets up to leave. You stay seated for a little longer, watching the credits scroll up the screen, somewhat reluctant to turn on your phone, to reconnect with the rest of the world.
But eventually, you stand up and leave the theater. You don’t feel self-conscious as you walk, alone, back to your car. You take out your phone to turn it on, but then you pause. You think about it. The phone goes back in your pocket.
You’re hungry, maybe you’ll go eat at a restaurant. All by yourself.