October 2012

So I’ve just been home in October for the first time in years.  It was only wanting to see the family that brought me.   The old haunted/must return to the Valley feelings dissipated after completing and showing October Country.  It’s like I finally sealed the Valley within me with the help of Mike and that film.  In fact upon my return October Country played in Portland.  I thought it would be strange to see everyone as they were years back after being with them just days ago.  While the movie played though their  current existence was eclipsed by the present tense of the film. I didn’t once think of how they look or have progressed  (or not) since the filming took place.  In fact the movie hit me in the gut like it used to while we were editing. At times it hurt and pulled love and laughter out of me almost as much when the events were happening in front of my eyes.  The only concession my mind made to the time difference between life and film was wondering what reaction the family would have if they watched it now.  

For now everyone is getting by despite evictions and poor health and other typical troubles. My parents are working too hard but seem calm and satisfied for once.  Donna was deathly sick  and has gone through  another round  of hell with violent men but  her  ferocious bitch-wit its intact and she  seems to have come through the fire once again.  Desi is a constant  and miraculous blend of  cynicism and potential but I worry that the regional curse of apathy will catch up with her. Chris is in Pennsylvania with a new family. Daneal and I have had a falling out but she’s now a waitress at Denny’s in a far off town and doing well (after going off the deep end once again.)    Denise rarely leaves the house but has ghosts running in circles round her so she says she’s not lonely.  As usual, I’m not convinced that the unfulfilled semi-existence of a ghost can cure loneliness. But then she’s made a life of it hasn’t she. The whole Valley has.

Upstate Update

In the Utica rail station I imagine my grandmother waiting for my grandfather’s returning train at the end of WWII.  I picture her leaning against a column with her eyes watching everything; her fingers knotting behind her back; her skirts swaying slightly as she tenses with each arrival notification.  This thought ends abruptly with the sight of the bathroom wall by the urinal – bright romance trumped by dingy need. 

The girls are not here. They are estranged from their mother once again.  Daneal’s absence is a seasonal thing. She could appear any minute dragging her storms and earthquakes with her.  This time though Desi ran off. That’s a sad first.  I know she’s fine but the silence she left behind is a heavy one. A layer of the atmosphere thins when she’s gone – the floating, antagonistic hope that this place needs so badly.

In the late afternoon the clouds gather and the sunlight begins to taste like steel.  The house fills with the hiss of the coffee maker’s last round of the day, staccato gossip and the clack of the cigarette machine.  Behind it all is an unspoken waiting for the rain to begin, for the day to end, for something to change.

July 2015