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Long before I fell in love with movies

Written by Laura Bargfeld

Long before I fell in love with movies, I fell in love with movie theaters.
When I was five, my mom took me for the first time.
We saw Rugrats in Paris at a cheap theater in Phoenix.
The lobby was all neon flashing lights and buttery sweet smells.
The lights dimmed and the screen glowed and I felt safe.
We watched it three times in a row.

Growing up in a city that in many ways didn’t really want me, being in a movie theatre often felt
like the closest I could get to somewhere else.
I went there for every birthday, attended midnight releases with middle school friends, worked
through teenage feelings alone in a dark room full of strangers.

And now, in another city, with another life entirely, I’ve made a home in working for one. I’ve
been with The Loft Cinema for almost three years, and this is the longest I’ve been away from
it.

I could wax poetic about all the free and low-price art films, the actors and directors that pass
through, the educational programming, the solar cinema, the film fest. So many things. But The
Loft Cinema is really forged in community, in people. We live in a society that stakes identity in
work itself, but so much of my identity, of my development as a human, is completely owed to
each of my coworkers.

 

 

As employees, we’ve celebrated births, birthdays, and graduations. We’ve grieved loss. We’ve
become roommates. Some of us fell in love there.

We’ve slipped up, seen each other on bad days, on worse days. Pushed each other to grow.
Held each other accountable. Failed at this, then tried again.

Outside of work we’ve made our own movies, our own art, pursued degrees and other dreams.
We’ve shared ideas in our downtime, collaborated, invested in one another. We are still doing
this.

We are still doing this.

But right now, I’m alone in my home, and I miss the routine, the idiosyncrasies, the energy. I
miss the volunteers, their commitment and fortitude. I miss the members and customers who
really love it there, who leave nice notes even when we aren’t at our best.

 

 

I even miss cleaning the popper. Just a little.

I don’t really know what will happen to The Loft, to all of them, to all of us, or to all of us. I
don’t know which faces will be there when we all go back, or forward, or whichever way there
is to go from here.

But I’ve been sitting inside, watching a lot of movies.
And writing and reading about a lot of movies.
And thinking about all the movies I want to save for later,
for the theater,
and all the people I’m going to watch them with.

And when I think of the final frames of this movie, the one we’re all in right now,
metaphorically speaking, I think whoever decides the endings for these sorts of things will
probably leave us all sitting together.
In one place with a glowing screen.
Irrevocably different.
Cycling back to something familiar.