Joan and Greg have been married for over forty-two years. Over such a span of years one can accumulate a large fortune in memories. Many of the most cherished of these date from the first few years of our lives together, when we lived in Bexley and Columbus, Ohio. This is not to say that later events in our lives didn’t engender treasured memories; they most certainly did. The birth of our children, their first words and steps, their first days of school, our first daughter’s wedding; these are all quite rare and precious events to be held close and remembered until we can remember no more.
But there is something about our first shared experiences that etches them deeply onto the surface of our shared memory. Are they so clear, even now, after so much else, good and bad, joyous and tragic, has happened, because they were the first imprints on the blank tablet of our lives to be? We were building something together, and every shared experience, every shared emotion, had significance, an unknown and unknowable potential.
These shared experiences weren’t always of momentous things. They were often of small things: music heard through shared apartment walls, the antics of our first cat, Sasha, a walk down Neil Avenue when the first snow of winter just began to fall, and all was still and quiet.
Indeed, one of our fondest memories from the early 70’s was of our evenings spent at a move theater called Marzetti’s in Columbus, Ohio. Marzetti’s was an independent theater located on Indianola Avenue. We discovered Marzetti’s at a critical time in our lives, having left our parents’ homes behind and gone away to college, graduate school, and marriage. We were finding ourselves and each other. We were young and eager to explore new ideas, new ways of thinking, to discover who it was that we were going to become together. Marzetti’s played a role in that becoming.
The theater was actually called “Marzetti’s Studio 35,” but we never called it anything but Marzetti’s. Growing up, we had never known anything like it. Already over 30 years old by the time we discovered it, Marzetti’s was a relic of a bygone era. Before Marzetti’s we had always gone to movie theaters that showed the latest Hollywood releases or to drive-ins where you went to watch (well maybe watch) double features. Marzetti’s showed double, triple, even quadruple feature movies at very inexpensive ticket prices. Since we had very little money in those days, this was no doubt a great part of its attraction. We also remember fondly the homemade fudge, beer, and pizza slices for sale in the lobby. We were attracted to Marzetti’s, too, for its presentation of foreign (and sometimes controversial) films. King of Hearts, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, The Conformist, Savage Massiah, and The Night Porter are among the movies we remember from that time.
Today, in an era of Netflix, Hulu, streaming movies, and DVD rentals, it is hard to imagine what it meant to be able to see movies like these. We were young and intensely curious about life beyond the confines of our previous experience. We were breaking out of old lives and discovering an exciting new one together. We were building the foundations of a complex edifice of memories and establishing the beginnings of a vibrant life of the mind we would live together for another forty years—one that we are still living now.