Our nearest movie theater is in an expansive hotel/office/restaurant complex in the county seat. There is a large, indoor parking garage. Elevators transport you from the parking decks to the levels of the complex where you can dine, drink, see a movie, visit the health club and check into the hotel.
After I became disabled from a severe stroke in 1999, date nights became limited to things that required minimal physical activity so we usually went to the movies about once a week. Watching movies is notoriously not the best type of date to foster a connection as you sit beside each other in silence. We had been accustomed to going on hikes and many other physical pursuits together. One of many adjustments we made was switching to sedentary pursuits like dinners out and going to the movies.
I always enjoyed going to movie theaters. Spending time with my husband in this way was a pleasure that remained following so many losses. Choosing a movie together, purchasing snacks, riding in the car, and watching the show culminated in a degree of engagement.
The part of going with my husband that I didn’t like was walking from the car to the box office. The elevators brought us up to the box office level from the parking deck and we stepped out into a corridor about the length of a football field. It was level and carpeted so it was relatively easy for me to walk the length with the brace on my leg and my cane. He was always in a hurry for some reason no matter where we were going or what the schedule was. He normally stepped off the elevator and sarted to walk at a brisk pace. I made an attempt to keep up, but it was hopeless. My injuries were too severe. My left arm was so spastic it moved with its own intent, disrupting my efforts at putting one foot in front of the other. My paralyzed left foot was lifted by a bulky brace with inconsistent success causing me to compensate by hiking my hip so my foot cleared the floor and I didn’t trip over it. There was just no way I could keep up with him.
He often would turn around from 20 paces in front of me and ask “Can’t you hurry up?” Every. Week. Talk about an unwillingness to face and accept reality.
This is the short version of the story of how our marriage broke up. He became more selfish as time wore on and wasn’t commited enough to make the adjustments required for the new reality. Moving on.
Fast forward three years from when my husband left, and I go to the same theater with a boyfriend. We arrived separately and met at the box office. We saw “A Wrinkle in Time”, an adventure story starring Oprah Winfrey. We’d been seeing each other for 7 months and this was our first movie date.
We had both parked our cars in the garage, and had the long walk to the elevators to go to our respective vehicles when the movie was over. He likes to hold my spastic left hand when we walk. It becomes more unruly from the effort of walking.
I was so glad to walk next to a man who said he was proud to be out on a date with me. He held my wayward hand and let me set the pace. We were able to chat as we walked. I’m sure I mentioned that taking this long walk with me was not a possibility with my ever-hurried former husband.
The stark contrast of taking the same walk with two different men in different times speaks ever so clearly about whom I should grant the privelege of holding my hand while walking beside me.