Elliptical Orbits of Time

by Elias Blum

I heard today that the old Odeon cinema on South Clark Street in Edinburgh is going to be reopened, having been bought by a small independent cinema company.

This Odeon used to be my regular local cinema, and I used to go at least once, sometimes twice, a week. I saw the ‘The Phantom Menace’ here, ‘Star Trek: Insurrection’, and many other films of that era.

On one memorable occasion, in 1999, I went to see ‘The Mummy’ with a richly scented, sumptuously attractive Mediterranean girl. Her neck line was fine and aristocratic, her bosom generous, her hands strong, warm, earth-rooted and honest. She had fire in the blood, a passion for the outcast and downtrodden in her soul, and quickness, precision and singularity of mind that I found both impressive and baffling (I think in poetry, not prose – and in the ideal not the empirical, so her stark outlook was both a challenge and a corrective to me – which made for heated but illuminating conversation).

We had become friends after spontaneously deciding to go on a road trip through the highlands together, but she was obviously well out of my league for anything more than a strictly platonic arrangement. She would put her hand in mine occasionally – and even touch my knee now and again – but these I interpreted as nothing more than Southern European exuberance; there’s no way, I thought, that a woman like that would ever let a spotty, socially awkward irk like me anywhere near her.

I’m not quite sure what I eventually got right, other than a certain degree of persistence, but eight years later we were married – and any day now she is about to become a mummy herself. She’s worried about that – worried about how she will adjust, how she will cope, how her body and mind will meet the challenges of birth and motherhood. But I live in hope and I trust that God, having brought us safe this far, will lead us safely home. I still see the same qualities in her that I saw in the beginning, and I know that the ever-burning fire, the passion, the goodness, the courage, the loyalty and the dedication that she possesses will carry her through the new challenges ahead – over all the obstacles of uncertainty, fear, anxiety, pain and depression.

And, in the midst of all of this, I look forward to seeing this old cinema reopened, so that we can take our daughter there one day. Time flies, but not in straight lines; it flies in wobbly elliptical orbits around the significant places and events that anchor it.