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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

My Personal White Room

There was a recent episode of the very good TV series “Only Murder In the Building” that talked about “The White Room.” A state of mind actors go to when they blank out during a rehearsal, and they mentally escape into this room of joy and delight, while having no idea of what they’re doing at the time. In the context of the show, Steve Martin’s character was overwhelmed and nervous over a patter song and he somehow ended up taking off his pants and saying things no one was willing to forgive him for.

I have been feeling rather overwhelmed as of late. I’ve had a super busy year and these last couple of weeks have had a lot of things on top of one another and it’s left me feeling stressed. Sometimes when I get overwhelmed I like to just stop and zone out, but after learning about “The White Room” I find myself wondering what my own, personal version of that would be. I guess it’s different than going to your happy place. To me, “The White Room,” is a place where you feel safe, where nothing can hurt you.

Is that “My Happy Place?” Maybe it is, but for me, I think it’s something different. I think for me it is filled with a sense of contentment that everything will be OK. This is why I’ve finally realized what my personal White Room is. It’s a 1990s movie theater. Specifically, it’s me sitting mid-row in a screening room that has “Batman Forever” playing. I want that for my place of contentment. I want the smell of the popcorn, the feel of the large bag of it in my lap, the look of the fun designs on the carpet, and the joy of being all 10 years old, happily watching a Batman movie with no worries.

I don’t think “Batman Forever” is the best Batman movie, that would be “Mask of the Phantasm,” but I do still find it a great deal of fun and far more enjoyable than a lot of people want to make it out to be. Indeed, another reason why I think that a 90s movie theater in my White Room is that during the early days of COVID, having just gone through losing my father to cancer the year prior, I was desperate to find something to cling to to give myself some joy.

The answer was 1990s Summer movies, the ones I saw and loved, and the ones I had never gotten around to seeing. Like a lot of us depressed, elder millennials, I have a raging nostalgia for the ‘90s. It’s for the way I felt during the ‘90s. Happy, carefree, not full of anxiety. You sit in the theater watching Batman at 10 is the peak of that feeling. What is there to be afraid of when you have Batman on the big screen and your walls looking out for you at night?

That movie theater that I think about, the one of my childhood, probably wasn’t as nice as I remember it being. But to me, it was a special place. There was a magic to going to the movies that I picked up on at a very early age. I think it’s why I’ve been so obsessed with movies for most of my life, have a home theater now, and a large, curated library of movies to enjoy whenever I want.

Though, it’s all just me trying to chase the feeling I felt as a happy kid, sitting there with my popcorn, watching Batman do Batman things. That’s why it’s my “White Room.” See you next week.


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