Please Don’t Let Me Die in Connecticut

Illustration by Laura Padilla-Castellanos

A few weeks ago, I suggested to my roommate Charlie that we should go to a drive-in movie theater. Over the week and a half that our other roommate Avik was visiting his parents , we went through half a dozen new recipes, went on two Trader Joe’s runs, and adopted most of each other’s mannerisms. It was way past time to break the monotony. Charlie agreed. At the time, I assumed it was one of those plans you make but never follow through on, so I smiled and went back to my tofu stir fry. (I don’t actually remember what we made that day, but tofu stir fry is a pretty safe guess).

After Avik came back, our movie plans suddenly became more real; we all needed to rescue ourselves from the hellscape that is Fall 2020. Thanks to a quick Google search we saw that the Mansfield Drive-In was an hour away and in the middle of nowhere. Since I am no stranger to destructive decisions, I was still game to make this trip during midterms and, to my surprise, so were my roommates. Three days later, we bought tickets to an 8:15 showing of Gremlins. Sliding our futon and blankets into the back of Charlie’s SUV, we were off! 

Nearing Meriden, I envisioned my Tetris’d GCal, filled with commitments I needed to get ahead of. Dread rose within my chest. I quickly pushed it aside and continued queuing songs for our playlist. Yale was far away, Lauryn Hill was playing, and I could finally be a person again.

Halfway through the drive to Mansfield, I decided our plan was a bad idea. It was a strangely cold night for October, and my sweatshirt–jean jacket combo was losing the fight against the nipping chill. Maybe I should have stayed in, ordered some Sherkaan, and remained a sad, busy worker bee. We had gotten off at the wrong exit and had to follow a series of poorly-lit backroads reminiscent of a horror B movie. Each mile stretched on for what seemed like hours. My roommates teased that the drive-in didn’t exist, and that we were just the marketable, diverse victims in a slasher movie about to walk into an elaborate ruse. As the melodramatic one, I cried out loud, “God, please don’t let me die in Connecticut.” More truthfully, I just hoped that we had made the right choice, and that this seemingly unnecessary trip would be worth it.

We arrived at the gates at 7:47, still before the show, but later than anticipated because of our detour into the wild world of northern Connecticut. Tuning into one of their radio stations, we were met by the crooning of doo-woop and instructions on how to get set up. A sigh of relief left my lips. We made it and the place wasn’t an abandoned cornfield. There we were, sitting in the trunk of a Honda Odyssey on a freezing cold night, watching a laughably bad movie, eating greasy food that arrived 30 minutes in, and it was perfect. The answer to my wish of escaping the Zoom meetings, Monday sections, and growing pile of responsibilities. We drove 60 miles to Mansfield, CT. to watch a movie that was probably on cable—and it was fucking great.

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