Butterflies filled my stomach as the descending plane slowly approached a horizon line bursting with pine trees. It was my first trip home since the pandemic began and I could hardly contain my desire to slow-motion frolic toward everyone I’ve ever known and loved. I subtly leaned toward my neighbor, who had the window seat, and tried to catch some of his view of the snow-capped mountain glimmering in the distance as we floated by.
He asked me what mountain we were looking at and I proudly told him it was Hood, the most picturesque of all the mountains. Going on to give him an unsolicited geography lesson, I pointed out Sisters, Jefferson, and Bachelor off in the distance, correcting him when he confused the oft-overlooked Cascades with the Rockies. He had just bought a house in Neskowin, a small beach town on the Oregon Coast and he had no idea there were also mountains out this way. Funny.
I was reminded of a quote I read some time ago: “Sometimes you have to leave home to find home.” I’ve always kind of interpreted those words as suggesting a scenario where “home” is cultivated in a new place - perhaps somewhere you can finally, without the constraints of a previously etched identity, be yourself - or who you want to be. In other words, it’s “out there” that you find your sense of belonging.
For me, despite carving my path down the streets of New York, standing in the shadow of Half Dome, or maneuvering by moonlight in Red Rock Canyon, the further away I’ve gotten from it, the more I know that Oregon is my home. Sure, I leave - I like to leave. But I always come back home. I know where I’m from and I’m proud of my eccentric, damp, evergreen corner of the world.
For a week I bathed in the joys of affection with my friends, family, neighbors, dogs, and muses. I revisited the places that shaped my memories, my dreams, my mind.
I’ve come to both respect and lean into this process: recognizing growth as it is reflected by previous versions of life. We look back and say, “Oh yeah, heh. I forgot about that...”, and suddenly we can see how we’ve grown.
Forgetting is good because it shows us that we don’t need all of the things we think we need, and remembering is good because it builds perspective. Perspective is essential for not losing your goddamn mind. Chances are you’re going to lose your goddamn mind, but, if you’re doing it right, you’ll eventually have perspective and that will make the *next* time you lose it much, much easier.
Initially, when I told my sister I was coming home to visit she was very excited, but immediately followed her squeals with “OK, so what’s the biz? I know you’re not just coming home to hang out. You’ve always got something up your sleeve.”, and I’m like, “...where is the lie?”
So, call me predictable but as fate would have it, the Filmquest Film Festival was hosting a premiere of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (our first in-person showing since Screamfest LA Drive-In 2020!), we were nominated for seven awards, and I wanted to go.
Exhausted, love drunk, and feeling fancy, I kissed my mother and boarded a plane to fly from Portland, not back to New York, but to be cradled by mountains in beautiful Provo, Utah. I stayed with a dear friend and absorbed the arid landscape.
The film festival brought together heaps of brilliant filmmakers who coalesced under the halo of an open bar and drank to one another’s wildest fantasies. Ambition was palpable; every heart showing itself on the sleeve of our fellow post-quarantine human. We remembered why we must never give up with this nonsensical movie-making stuff. It’s not meaningless if it makes you feel alive.
Here’s some photos of Utah being Utah.