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Prompt 3

We missed the bus.

We thought we had it all planned out but the movie ran longer than we thought.  I think it was a triple feature but which movies they were, I couldn’t tell you, that information lost after so many years.  I seem to remember that the theatre always played triple-features and they were somehow related to each other.  Three movies with Brad Pitt or three movies about high school or three movies with the word “Light” in the title.  It didn’t really matter, as long as they had something in common, they would play the three together.

The theatre is called the Mayfair and I’m pretty sure it’s still there.  Every time we go back to Ottawa to visit we take a drive down Bank Street and see it there, looking just as it did all those years ago, at least from the outside.

The listings for the movies used to be printed on coloured pieces of paper and would be tacked up in the common areas in residence.  It was before you could check movie listings online.  It was before smart phones and all of that.  We barely had email back then.  I know, I’m just realizing exactly how old I actually am.  A quick search online confirms that yes, the Mayfair is still there and now it has a website with all of the listings.  Of course it does.  It actually makes me a little sad to think about now.  Like the kids sitting in residence thinking about going to see a show at the Mayfair are missing out on something by just looking it up online.  It really was much better when you all had to gather around the piece of paper tacked to the board in Rez Commons.  Things are always better back in the day.

I don’t remember what the movies were, I don’t remember why we decided to go that particular night, I don’t remember if I had popcorn although, let’s be perfectly honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a movie and not had popcorn.  I vaguely remember who I went with, not because I have a specific memory of it, but more because I spent almost every minute of my first year of university with the same group of people so I will assume we were at the movie together: my roommate and the two girls who lived next door to us.  An unlikely foursome brought together from four different cities in four different provinces.  About as far apart as four people could be, brought as close together as four people could be.  It was one of those amazing phenomenons whereby had we met under any other circumstances we probably wouldn’t have been friends but we were thrown together, all new to a  city, new to the idea of university, new to just about everything and we bonded quickly, tightly and for eight months we did almost everything together.  Like going to the movies that night.

The Mayfair is technically close enough to the university to walk to, and in the warmer weather we usually did walk, but in Ottawa in the winter, you don’t walk anywhere.  We took the bus, the good old #7 bus that took us pretty much anywhere we wanted to go and then brought us home again when we were done.  Except when we forget to double-check the schedule and we missed the last bus.

I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding realizing we missed the bus or making the heart-wrenching decision that we were going to have to hoof it on foot, but I do remember the cold.

I have never been that cold in my life.  Within three minutes of starting out on our way, I couldn’t feel my thighs, so cold was the wind biting into my jeans.  We tried to talk to take our minds off the cold but our teeth were chattering so hard that soon talking became impossible so we just kept making noises, any kind of noises to keep our lips moving so they didn’t freeze in place.  Having spent the first 17 years of my life in a much more moderate climate I had never felt this kind of cold before.  People warned me, tried to prepare me for what I was going to experience, but until that night I had no idea.

We walked as fast as we possibly could, counting the blocks as we passed by them.  We reached the dingy pizza place that marked the halfway point and kept on walking.  My feet were now frozen and it was like dragging two blocks along behind me.  Why had we decide to go to a movie anyway?  Who’s idea was this?  Next time anyone suggests going outside in the winter I’m going to say ‘no way’ and stay inside where it’s warm!

The funny thing is though, when I think back to that night and the bone-jarring cold, the other most distinct memory I have is how much fun it was.  It was an adventure.  I was there with the three people who had, in such a short time, become my whole world and we were having the time of our lives.  That year is still one of the best I have ever had and that night was just one adventure in a year filled with so many new experiences that I can’t even remember all of them.

But I will never forget missing that bus, and walking home in the cold, so cold that I honestly thought we weren’t going to make it, and yet also feeling so lit up inside.  Like suddenly realizing I was exactly where I was supposed to be, becoming the person I was always supposed to become.

Maybe missing the bus wasn’t so bad after all.

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