The first time I went to the movies, I was six years old. It was the AMC in Times Square. I was seeing Pixar’s “Up,” and for the first time in my life, I had truly experienced a movie the way it was meant to be experienced. Of course, the gorgeous visuals on the big screen made an impact, but it was being in a room with a hundred other people who were seeing and hearing and feeling the same things that I was that really left an impact

What I remember the most is the quiet, solemn air in the dim theater after the opening scene which showed Ellie and Carl meeting and falling in love and all of the tragedy in their lives. I could not hold back my tears. I was so embarrassed for crying. I felt like a baby. But then, I heard sniffles and wet hiccups and people blowing their noses. There was a comfort in that — feeling a collective emotion. That day, I felt so human.

Since then, I’ve been obsessed with going to the movies. At the beginning of every year, I would write down a list of movies that would come out that year and the dates that they would open. I would put it up on our fridge to make sure that I never forgot.

My main form of bonding with my father would be our weekly movie trips. Every Saturday, we would wake up at 9 a.m. to catch the earliest matinee showing of that week’s movie. I would order a hotdog and he would order nachos. That would be our breakfast. Following the movie, we would drive around and talk about the movie for hours and hours.

When the pandemic hit, what I missed the most was the movies. I was overjoyed when I could return. Yet, not everyone else was. Movie theaters were one of the businesses that were hit the hardest by the pandemic. I missed people at the theater. I missed seeing people be excited to see a film and talk their heads off after leaving the theater.

But then came Barbenheimer, initially a silly meme about two nearly opposite films coming out on the same day: “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.” But for some reason, the joke never died down. People became more and more excited to see these films. People were planning out their fits and creating itineraries for release day. People were as excited to visit the theater as I was.

And when release day finally came, I was so excited to finally experience cinema again. I was overjoyed when I was surrounded by droves of people dressed head to toe in pink. I was delighted when we all exited the theater for “Oppenheimer” and nearly the entire crowd walked straight towards “Barbie.” I was euphoric walking out of “Barbie” and seeing everyone’s tear-stained faces mirroring mine.

That day was the highlight of my summer. Thank you, Barbenheimer.

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