Fire walking through my past in Twin Peaks
By Jason Webber
Tom Wolfe can bite me. You can go home again. And sometimes — just sometimes — it can even be rewarding. Especially when you get to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in 17 years, drink rivers of hardcore Pacific Northwest coffee, kiss a celebrity, give a friend her first hangover in years and enjoy the most famous cherry pie in the world. And, oh yeah, make peace with the more unsavory chapters of childhood.
This is how I spent my 2011 summer vacation. And it would be an experience that would change my life.
The last time I was in my hometown of Longview, Wash. (the Mecca of apathy made infamous by Green Day back in ’93) was in 2007, where my gleefully dysfunctional family had assembled to bear witness to my sister’s ill-fated wedding. I really wasn’t psyched about being back in a town where the only real entertainment was scanning the police blotter in the local paper to see if I recognized any former high school classmates. And I was quite nervous about seeing the person retrieving me from the airport — my old man. Yeah, we enjoyed a pretty good camaraderie over the phone and I always called him on Father’s Day, but you know how those parental jitters can be, especially if you live 3,000 miles away. I may be 35 and “all growed up” as my nephew would say, but he’s still my dad, and we hadn’t always been close. In fact, we didn’t speak for a few years back in the early 2000s; long story.
Touching down in Portland, Ore., I soon had the old Pet Shop Boys song “This Must Be the Place I Waited Years To Leave” going through my head, the title summing up my entire state. But as I retrieved my luggage from baggage claim, my tension eased. There was my old man, that unmistakable smile plastered on his face. And what the hell was my brother doing here? We had barely spoken more than five paragraphs to one another in 10 years, but there he was. Get this — the prick even hugged me.
During the four days I spent with my dad and his wife (I can’t call her “stepmom.” Too weird.), I discovered to my joy that the man who I was now calling “Dad” was not the man who had raised me. Gone was the red hot temper, the close-minded approach to Christianity and the “I voted for Reagan and liked it” arrogance that had driven me to move out at age 18.
Instead, we discussed quantum physics, the folly of the Creation Museum and even found some common political ground. We’re still Archie and Meathead on many issues, but we could now laugh about our differences. And damn, it felt good.
When not reconnecting with my old man, I spent time with the few remaining old friends I had in the area. My former Taco Bell coworker Robert was now married with four kids, but when we found ol’ Bob Fultz, the other member of our triple threat gang, it was like no time had passed. We spent the evening listening to Insane Clown Posse songs and making asses of ourselves — just like we did in our late teens.
But going home can certainly be a sobering experience. It killed me that all of the local music stores that had helped provide the soundtrack to my angsty adolescence were now long gone. The mall was still there but barely, now occupied mostly by vacant storefronts.
Incredibly, I almost hated leaving that dirty little town. I had no idea when I would see my old man again and considering he’s 65 now, there was a certain third-act-of-“On Golden Pond” feeling in the air as we tearfully parted.
I took the train up to Seattle and spent a memorable evening partying with my old friend Carrie who I had met on a Prince fansite back in the early 2000s. While we’d corresponded for years, this was the first time we’d actually met face to face and we spent the evening doing shots of Dead Nazis (Jagermeister and Rumple Minz). By the time we crashed, we felt like the Inglorious Basterds.
After a quick detour to see my old high school friend Jake, I careened towards North Bend, Wash. for the main reason why I was in the Evergreen State in the first place — the Twin Peaks Festival. Call me a Peaker, a Peaks Freak, even a Peakie; just so long as you call me a fiercely devoted fan of David Lynch’s soap opera-cum-murder mystery that in 1990 had millions of people asking, “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” Yes, I’m a nerd. Deal with it.
Or deal with the 200+ other people who joined me at the festival, a three-day event so epic in its awesomeness that it can only be described with lots of exclamation points. A 35-millimeter print of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me on the big screen! Coffee and cherry pie at Twede’s Café (Twin Peaks’ famous RR Diner)! Meeting six cast members from the show! Making dozens of new friends! Stealing a kiss from Sherilyn Fenn!
After the whirlwind of vacation activities had blown over, I found myself waiting for my flight in Sea-Tac International Airport. I had spent my last evening in Washington having dinner and drinks with my old friend Tasha, who I had not seen since our high school graduation. The events of the week had put me in a rather nostalgic mood and I once again reached for the Pet Shop Boys, as they never let you down. Flipping through my iPod, I settled on “Being Boring,” the opening track from Behaviour. The lyrics suddenly took on a new resonance as I pondered the events of the last 10 days, particularly this nugget: “I never dreamt that I would get to be/The creature that I always meant to be.” I had thoroughly made peace with my father and brother, rekindled old friendships with childhood friends, visited with old mentors, even spent a Garden State-esque afternoon with an old crush. I had gone home and it had felt like home.
Take that, Mr. Wolfe.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jason Webber at JasonWebber@DaytonCityPaper.com.