Twenty-five years ago today, Batman Returns was released in America. That means that it was released in my neighborhood theater. Having waited three years for the next installment of the Dark Knight saga, and being a rabid Tim Burton fan, I was more than ready. I have a poster that commemorates this date. This was also the day that I gave up being single forever.
A quarter of a century ago, I drove down to Denver to pick up my girlfriend at the airport. Shortly after that, we returned to Boulder where we made a point of seeing one of the first screenings of what would turn out to be Michael Keaton's last turn beneath the cowl. It was quickly adopted as "our movie." She and I reveled in the romantic tension between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle: Batman and Catwoman. We were entranced.
Which may say a lot about the couple involved, but this was the moment in which my bluff might have been called. I had announced, a few months earlier, my intention of moving from my home in Boulder, Colorado to be with her in Oakland, California. As talks progressed, it became clear to me that the direct approach was my best bet, and so I pushed past any talk about trial periods or getting my own place and seeing how things worked out. If I was jumping in, it was going to be an all-or-nothing shot at greatness. I was moving halfway across the country to be with the woman I loved. How about that for a romantic gesture? Even without the cape and cowl, I felt this was pretty heroic. So for the next couple weeks, we played a game of chicken, waiting for the other to swerve. I had already sold my furniture and was camping out in my mother's basement. If I turned back now, I would have to search out yet another set of Pillow Kingdom rent-to-own living room set and someplace to put it. Back where I started.
But that wasn't going to happen. More than a decade before this, I had gone off to college in Santa Fe. I left as a hero and came home a week later when it became apparent that I just wasn't quite ready for life that far from home. I spent the next dozen years expecting to live my life alone in that one bedroom apartment, wondering what might have been. I had begun fantasizing about plans to celebrate my single-ness, as all my other friends were getting married and settling down. Being alone wasn't going to be so bad, especially if I could make a sardonic show of it.
Who was I kidding? When my chance arrived, in the form of the woman who would become Catwoman to my Batman, I leaped. Two days later, when I turned thirty, I was suddenly staring straight into a committed relationship, and a week after that, when we drove out of Boulder for my last time as a resident, I only looked back for a moment. I liked what I saw, but not any more than what I saw in the passenger seat next to me.
Our first stop on our way back west? Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Victory Lap begins.