In the summer of 1983, the year Return of the Jedi came out, my Big Brother was stationed in Halifax. My parents and I took a road trip from Ottawa to visit. He was being billeted in Fenwick Tower, a high rise downtown, and got us an apartment a couple of floors above his. It was a real treat to have my own space, as I had my own room. Usually my parents and I shared a single hotel room to keep costs down, and my father snored like a bastard, so I spent most trips sleep-deprived.
The day we arrived, my brother brought us to our apartment and, once we were settled in, my father asked what the plan was for our visit. His response was, “I was thinking about taking the kid to see Return of the Jedi tonight.”
As my father started to raise objections, I held my breath. He had no idea what Jedi was, or how big a deal this was to me, so we had to explain it to him. My brother wanted to take me to the late show, and my father didn’t think I’d be able to stay awake that late. My mother informed him that I’d prop my eyes open with toothpicks if I had to. Big Brother also figured there’d be a group of people going, which worried my father because I was only 12, and the group would be much older than I. (This from the man who didn’t like me getting together with my friends without adult supervision. I just couldn’t win.)
In the end, he was convinced, and that night, my parents dropped my brother and I off at Scotia Square. My brother hadn’t been able to put together a group, but one of his friends did meet us there, and the three of us made our way through the mall to the theatre. I remember the friend running ahead of us to stand in front of a display of Star Wars toys in a shop window so I wouldn’t see them before seeing the film – the original spoiler alert.
Jedi had been out for a few months, and it was the late show on a weeknight, so the theatre was nearly empty. I don’t remember much about seeing the film itself. My main recollections of the night are of being excited about getting to hang out with my brother while doing the quite grown-up thing of staying out late.
After the movie was over, we had to walk from the theatre back to the apartment. It wasn’t far, around two kilometres.
It took us hours.
My brother is a night owl, and I’d say his friend was as well, so our route was meandering and our pace never more than a slow stroll. Again, I don’t remember the details. I couldn’t tell you where we went or what we saw, but I do recall it was a warm night and they spoke the same way they would had I not been there – meaning there was a lot of profanity. I do remember saying something to my brother about my parents being worried or angry that I was out so late, but he shrugged his shoulders and essentially said, ‘Let them.’
Everybody takes important steps during their transition from child to adult, and this night was one of mine.
It was nearly 3am when we got back to the apartment. As always, I worried about my father’s potential reaction. And for the first time I looked at a risk/reward proposition, with the risk being my father’s wrath, and decided the reward was worth it.
It was a baby step towards independence.