No Way Home

I knew I wasn’t going to get to watch Spiderman: No Way Home with my friends this year. I knew it when I finally got into the programme I’d been chasing for three years and left home for a new city, a new campus, a new room.

I knew I’d be okay, after all this isn’t the first time I’ve left home right? I’ve moved cities before, left the houses I’ve grown up in and outgrown the illusion of storybook endings.

People leave. Places change. Memories fade. Life moves on all the same.  

I knew I’d be okay, and I was for the longest time, until I scrolled into “Spiderman: No Way Home might be the best MCU movie ever made”. Suddenly it all came back to me.

My friends and I would be making plans to watch the movie for months, glued to Book My Show for the ticket bookings to open. First day, first show, nothing less. Those prices are ridiculous to pay for just a movie, I know. But it’s not just a movie, it’s an irreplaceable experience, a sacred tradition I share with the people dearest to me.   

We would get the same snacks we always do – cheesy nachos, cheese popcorn, butter-salted popcorn and three soft drinks for four people because one of us would say “I’m not thirsty” but end up sipping on all our glasses. You know who you are. We would take our seats, film the Marvel logo for social media aesthetics and become the same four-year-olds who lost their sanity when Tobey swung from building to building, movie to movie, memory to memory, and right into our hearts. No, Andrew, nobody cares about you.

It all came back to me, and suddenly I wasn’t so okay.

I haven’t stepped foot into a movie theatre since the pandemic began. I haven’t done much of anything since the pandemic began. I have just put my mask on, applied my sanitiser and distanced myself from people and events as much as possible. I knew what I had to do, I knew that couldn’t live with myself if someone else suffered the brunt of my ignorance. I knew that I was in the right, but man did I not feel right sometimes.

I felt robbed, robbed of traditions and routines. Robbed of seemingly inconsequently daily conversations and those boring old faces. Robbed of my reasons to get out of bed every day.

I felt trapped, trapped between physical screens and virtual walls. Trapped in the same summer day, on the same May date. Trapped in the same place, the same space, like the last two years never happened. But they did, and they took so much from what we had and what we could’ve had.

This year has taken so much from us.

We’ve lost people, dreams, moments and meals. We’ve lost the anticipation of a doorbell to ring. We’ve lost the reassurance of a familiar greeting. We’ve lost the annoyance of incessant nagging. We’ve lost the bliss of stable surroundings. We’ve lost our way to simpler times.

We lost our way back home.   

As I type this, I’m surrounded by some wonderful people at a wonderful place, living as privileged a life as I could’ve asked for. But there are days-turned-nights, like tonight, where I still feel alone, stuck in limbo. I don’t feel okay, and that’s okay.

There will be more such nights, but the sun will rise again and I will rush to get breakfast before 10 30 AM. I have new routines to maintain, new people to meet and new meals to almost miss. Maybe I’ll finally watch Spiderman through some torrent and know if Tom ever got home or chose to soldier on.

Maybe I’ll miss home again, I think I most definitely will, but at least that way I’ll never forget it. Maybe missing is our way of persisting. Maybe remembering is good enough for tonight.

After all,

people leave, places change, memories fade and Andrew Garfield was a terrible Spiderman.

Life moves on all the same.       

~ Varun Dani

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