In the 41 years of our marriage, I never went to the movies or to the theater by myself.  It would never have occurred to me to do that.  Aside from shopping, which my husband didn’t much enjoy unless it was to bookstores, we wanted to spend most of our downtime together, whether it was to go for a walk, visit a museum, or to go see a play or movie.

I remember my first theater outing as a widow, a few months after his death.  I had purchased a ticket to see “The Odyssey” performed on a Saturday night in an off-Broadway theater on the Lower East Side in Manhattan.  They didn’t have reserved seats and I picked one on the aisle.  The seat next to me stayed empty until a few minutes before they closed the doors.  A pretty scruffy young guy in his 20’s sat down next to me.  I’m not sure what was worse, having the seat empty or having somebody else sitting in it who wasn’t my husband.  Either way, it was extremely difficult.  I made it through the first act, until intermission, and then left  as soon as the lights went on.

It’s been about 2 years now and I’ve gotten better at this, having gone to several Broadway and off-Boadway plays by myself and seen them through to the end.  One friend, who’s widowed, suggested that going to matinees, when there are fewer couples, was just easier than going in the evening.  Although I haven’t always followed that advice, I can say that it is.  I still swallow hard each time an usher in a theater sees me standing at the top of the aisle waiting to be seated and asks, “How Many?” And I respond, “Just one”.

This past Saturday, I went to a matinee of “The Artist”, playing at a movie theater on 2nd Avenue and East 67th Street. The theater was only about a third full and just about everyone there was eligible for a senior citizen discount. Many were single women.  As I started to eat a bag of popcorn before the movie started, I thought how far I’d come in being able to do this.

If you haven’t seen it, the movie is just terrific and very life-affirming, although I confess that I was probably one of many viewers who was transfixed by, and immediately fell in love with Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier.