vaguely feel like going alone to a carnival in an abandoned mall parking lot after a $2 movie

I went to a $2 movie the other day by myself.

I do this occasionally because I think of it at the last minute and don’t really think to ask anybody to go.

It was a pretty good one, more suspenseful than I’m use to. I was wrapped up in it and I was actually scared, I think, so I went into the lobby for like 30 seconds to ground myself in reality. That regular life was still happening outside of the story I concocted in my head.

That’s odd for me, to leave a movie in the middle. I don’t like to do that. I like the escapism.

After going to a movie, it feels like a natural thing to process it with someone. Maybe this is just an old habit, a social convention that people do. I don’t have anyone to talk about the movie with, as everyone makes their way to the parking lot no one is talking about the movie.

My artistic self wants to believe that no one is doing this because no one knows what to think. That they were forcefully moved into silence.

Once I went to a church service and it was good and it resonated with me and I was impacted by what happened and then when I got in the car with my wife and she wanted to talk about it, I didn’t know what to say.

But I wasn’t necessarily visibly impacted, I wasn’t crying or anything, I was just rolling it around in my head and my wife kept asking me about it and I didn’t have anything to say but then in my head I was done processing it and still didn’t talk about it; it was at that point I became really selfish, and it became like a game to me, not talking to my wife about the church service.

The good experience that could have united us became a rotten one of disjointedness.

…I feel like the situation I described above is happening more and more; we experience things (fun, good or negative) and then are intently thinking about them, but then are nervous to share those emotions with others around us to the point where we decide not to engage with it at all.

That’s how I felt when leaving the movie. Maybe I should’ve talked to a stranger about it. But now I’m talking to you.

But, uh, next door to the movie theater is a huge parking lot for an abandoned mall. And on this night they were having a random carnival. Rides set up. Those long non-cool food trucks with nachos and cotton candy and elephant ears and funnel cakes. Ferris wheels. Tilt-a-Whirls. Flying things. All of the rides were randomly set up in a parking lot where people used to park to go to JC Penney, before JC Penney thought they didn’t want these type of people anymore, that the demographics were no longer favorable to their long-term plans and then where are these people supposed to go?

Disposable income is a funny thing.

I just paid $2 for a really great piece of art, not the best movie ever, but respectable and fun none the less, with lots of great actors and set pieces and whatever and it made me slightly nervous and a little anxious but in a good way. I told several people about the movie, but I named the movie, unlike I’m doing here for you, because the movie in this case is not really the point. My $2 also went to pay rent at the movie theater and to pay for the workers there and to clean the place and whatever else.

BUT___I walked into this carnival and decided I wanted a foot long corndog for dinner and I walked up to the big food truck stand and paid $6.

$6. $6. $6. $6. For one corndog.

$2 movie. $6 corndog. That doesn’t add up. The corndog was a much more momentary pleasure, a weird soggy meat substitute encased in batter that beckons to form of nostalgia for something most of us have never lived.

Like I was honoring some idea of America that I never really experienced. That it was an America that may have never existed except in movies where we watched people go to fairs and buy corndogs and laugh and have a good time.

I looked around the abandoned mall parking lot that now contained a weekend carnival. I looked at the teenagers doing teenager-type things: laughing, pushing, glancing. I looked at the parents doing parent-type things: running, scooping up kids, holding overpriced trinkets. This was the stuff they used to do in the mall. They just needed a new place to do it. Maybe this was the story of America — finding new places to keep doing the things we’ve always done, even if we don’t know why we do them.

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