My first year out of high school I left Seattle to attend college halfway across the country in Northfield, Minnesota. It was a beautiful place: The Autumn leaves – a fireworks show; the town – a Midwest jewel; the campus (otherwise know as “The Hill,”) – immaculate.
And something about it freaked me out. Standing on top of the campus hill – overlooking the flat farmland that stretched on forever – I was struck with a creeping sense of reverse vertigo. So much flat – so much sky. No mountains or mist or fog or colossal moss-laden old growth trees to insulate against the void. Standing there as the first wind-chilled kiss of winter grazed my cheek, I realized: I missed Washington. I missed home.
Fortunately, that Fall, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks was in full swing on network television and for an hour each week, I could return home by tuning in. The first reverberating chord of Angelo Badalamenti’s opening music started it. The subsequent images sealed the deal: A thrush in an evergreen tree; sawmills; Mt. Si looming in the mist; snowflakes drifting into the thunder of Snoqualmie Falls; the rain soaked, murky, coffee-colored river. Ahh… Washington… Home.
Motion pictures are powerful. They bring us to an immediate emotional place that in our everyday lives may take years or a lifetime to fully understand or express. Mr. Lynch’s show brought me to the starting point of an emotional understanding of my own. I’m not representing here that I fully understand all his work – (or any of it necessarily) – but man – the man can make a mood – and that’s powerful in and of itself. And the mood he made for me in that Twin Peaks opener was made in Washington. Any setting, mood or palette in a filmmaker’s imagination can be found inside this state: The soft rolling hills of the Palouse draped in a sunrise; the craggy spires of the North Cascades in crimson alpenglow; the metropolitan steel, smart neighborhood feel and impossibly gauzy light of Seattle.
That’s where I live now. Back home in Seattle, where I work as a writer and director. Today, it’s raining outside. Not the soft, misty rain we see for much of the winter – but a real, hard, clean rain. The wind is moving the dark Evergreens slowly in a January dance. The light is platinum in the west. My old black and white dog sleeps under the golden lamplight by this writing desk. On top of the desk sits a script I’ve worked on for some time. Inside the script are rivers full of salmon – and mist in the mountains and colossal moss-draped trees draped in gauzy light.
A mood is a powerful thing. Thank you Mr. Lynch.
First published in Washington Film Magazine, 2011.
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