Projectionist Dispatch: Home Alone

I can very clearly remember the day I went to see Home Alone 2 in the theater, at age seven, with my mom. I was at my friend Shana’s house playing, and the plan was for my mom to pick me up, then she and I would go to the movies just the two of us.

So definite in my mind is this vision of Shana’s house, playing Thunder Cats, hiding when my mom came to pick me up, and the excitement of the movie date that evening. Just Mama and me. Of all the playdates I had in 1992 (many of which were with Shana), and all the movies I’m sure I saw with my mom, I wonder why this day has stuck out all these years. I’ve looked back on it many times, re-experiencing the excited feeling in my chest. Home Alone was never one of my favorite movies (although of course I liked it), but here is this memory, framed in such a way that I can transport myself back to that moment of being seven, of feeling those things.

It’s that way for me with a lot of memories– I can feel them, be there. I have another special memory of my mom from around that time. I was in second grade, in Miss Voss’s class. Mama surprised me by picking me up early from school. We had all been sitting in a circle sharing the books we’d read that month and my stack was by far the highest. When Mama walked in, all the other kids asked what we were going to do and when she said, “We’re going out for pizza,” I knew they were all jealous and I felt a glowing pride.

This Saturday I will be building and projecting a print of the first Home Alone movie. When I found out today that the screening would be on 35mm, I got so excited. The memory of that movie date with my mom to see Home Alone 2 jumped to the front of my brain, and knowing I will touch that film (even though it’s Home Alone 1 and not 2, but same dif) makes me feel like a circle is closing, like I’m making a connection over layers of time.

Movies have always been a special thing for Mama and me. I can remember so many movie dates: Contact, Elegy, The Secret In Their Eyes, Wristcutters: A Love Story, Lost in Translation, Coffee and Cigarettes…reaching back to my very first film in a cinema: The Aristocats. I don’t remember this, I was only eighteen months old. But my mom swears I ate the entire tub of buttered popcorn and while all the other kids ran around, I was rapt at attention, my eyes never leaving the screen.

I don’t want there to ever be a final film we see together. I want the reels to keep turning forever, even though I know they can’t.

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