I remember the night so well. There was film playing at a small cafe down the street from our apartment. They were going to screen the film with a projector onto the walls. An artsy piece, maybe not the most suited for an 11 year old I wondered? We walked down the street just as the sun was setting and my son skipped with anticipation, careful not to land on the cracks. He was so excited to be out of the house after the long winter and the slush melted through our boots and soaked our socks. We didn’t care.
The cafe was hip, film students in their 20′s lounged around on bean bag chairs and drank Yerba Mate. My son had a Coke from a bottle, the Mexican kind. I knew he’d be up late tonight under the influence of caffeine and inspiration. It was a special occasion though and I could literally see him ingesting the culture and experience. As the lights went dim I sat a table just few feet from the spot he found on the floor of the cafe. Laying on his stomach, his chin resting in his palms. The first scene began play out on the rough white wall and the crackle of an outdated stereo filled the room with a rolling ambient soundtrack. He looked over to make sure I was watching and I smiled at him as he squirmed with excitement, his legs kicking into the air, back and forth like scissors. Five minutes into film his legs stopped moving, eyes stopped blinking, and his little chin dropped. He was in a trance, captured by the moving pictures and the sounds of the story. I watched my son’s first film engulf him and unfold before me and I saw him becoming a new person. For two hours he lay still as a painting on a wall in a museum. The students laughed at jokes he couldn’t understand and he looked to me for clarification. He pressed on to understand what it all meant but even with themes floating over his innocent little mind he soaked up the films energy. He shook his body back a few inches and scanned the room with discomfort as the characters made love on screen. Blushing he didn’t look to me this time, he wanted no one to see his nervousness. I laughed on the inside watching my son revel in the new experiences and filled with pride as his face turned to anger at the betrayal of the main character. The sun was long gone as the film’s credits began to roll and my son didn’t move an inch. Processing a range of emotion, he finally looked to floor pushed himself to his feet and asked if we could see another film next week. I smiled and said sure we could.
That night as I walked home alone I realized I was growing up.