Saturday, November 17, 2007

Memory Museum

There are at least two new movies that I know of which were filmed around the town where I spent my adolescence. Luckily, they're both movies that I'd want to see anyway, with fantastic actors and directors. Last night, I got onto Apple's movie trailer site and decided to watch their trailers. The second shot in the first one, one of those outdoor shots that helps establish the physical realm in which a story unfolds, made tears well up in my eyes. I paused it. My dog, who always rushes to my side when she hears me sniffle, did not fail in her habit.

The image was of a sunrise over a mountain that overlooks my hometown. But it was shot from behind the mountain - or rather, from the side that does not face the town. I watched the rest of the trailer, scanning the horizons of the panorama shots to see if I could recognize any other geographical features. I only spotted one other which I thought I could place immediately. But either way, it was such a treat to see all of it; I still recognized the undulations and vegetation of the Southwest Texas desert floor. After I watched the whole trailer, I showed it to Honey and paused on the second shot. I explained to him where the camera was in relation to the highway connecting my town and the next, roughly how far out from the town the shot was taken (maybe 7 to 10 miles), where the town was in relation to the shot and what time of day it was, based on where the sun was. He gave a polite, "neat."

I've blogged before about my hometown and how I haven't spent more than 48 hours there, since the summer after I graduated from high school, in 1994. I haven't even seen it at all since we scattered part of my childhood dog's ashes there during an 18 hour trip in 1996. (At Christmas that year, we decided to scatter his ashes in every place he'd ever lived. This meant we drove around the state of Texas, from the Gulf Coast where we lived at the time, to the Panhandle, where both my dog and I were born, to the Big Bend and back to the coast. For those keeping track, that's about 32 hours of road time alone.) There are times in my life, when things get hectic and scary, when I retreat to my hometown in my dreams. In the past few years, each time I'm there, I convince myself that I'm actually, physically visiting the town and when I wake I'm crestfallen. As a teen I hated the isolation of my town; as an adult, it can be alluring. Lately, I have not been having those dreams. Nor have I had any dreams about tornadoes or aliens - other common themes which tell me that I'm stressed - in many, many months. But about a week ago, I dreamt I was on the road which drives right by the mountain described above. I don't know why; I haven't been missing my town or feeling too stressed. (Well, I can think of something in my life from which I'd like reprieve, but you good folks shan't be privy to that today. But the dream was still surprising.)

In any event, I think seeing my town's mountain inspired my train of thoughts when I woke. Touring the terrain of my childhood. All I could think about was the inside of my grandparents' house in the Panhandle. They moved further in-state about 5 or 6 years ago to be closer to my aunts and uncles and parents. The last time I visited them in the Panhandle was shortly after New Year of 2000, almost 8 years ago! Not that I wasn't aware of it, but I hadn't meditated on this thought in a long, long time: I'll never see that house again; certainly not from the inside. So I took a tour of it in my mind. I felt the fresh summer air from their porch, went inside to hear the whirring of the window air conditioning unit, looked at all the family photos and Grandpa's paintings on the walls, smelled the gas from the kitchen, placed my hand on the stack of books and magazines that Grandpa kept on the corner of the kitchen table ... I laid in bed tracing the terrain of their house for what felt like 10 or 15 minutes. I was kind of surprised by how much I remembered. I remember it as well as, or maybe better than, the two houses I lived in growing up. It was the constant. Then I toured what I could remember of the church we attended till I was 12 - with a brief stint out while Dad pastored a church for a few years in the mid-80s. That, I remember more in chunks: the yellow-white brick, the arched breezeway on the east side of the west wing, the L shape of the building and that the only two sets of stairs were located on the ends of the L, the brown carpet in the hallway, the library on the east end of the building, the kitchen that was right across from that, the playground just north of the parking lot where, when I was a kid, we had the old cab of a semi-truck to play in (all the kids loved pretending they were truck drivers); the vast field across the street from the church where, in 1982 on Mother's Day, I saw my first - and so far only confirmed - tornado; that field is full of houses now. Progress.

Sorry I've been absolutely awful about blogging anything this Fall. And I'm sorry my first post in over a month was pretty self-indulgent. And, I'm sorry I haven't really been cruising other blogs a lot (or at all, really) in the last 6 or 8 weeks. I'll try to be better on all counts.


mommanator said...

I love reading your blogs however long it takes to write em missy! I can see in my head what you write. Some people just have that gift! me not one of them Thanks
I have gone to google earth and looked periodically at where we lived in Colorado, and see what has changed, I haven't been there in quite awhile- it's neat to reminesce- even albiet with yourself!

Darla D said...

I've missed your blog presence, Molly! Thanks for sharing your memories. I felt like I was visiting your grandparents' house with you. It was a bittersweet trip.