The best way to begin your transformation into a masochist is by watching the last season of Six Feet Under more than once.
No creation on this planet simultaneously enlightens and destroys you quite like that show did.
I can pretty much attribute my whole weekend being shot to watching those twelve snot bubble-inducing episodes.
I knew what I was in for. I watched the whole series a few years back and recalled that I was completely immobile for two hours after viewing the series finale. A lead weight on the couch, screaming, bawling, unwilling to speak to anyone or move. My appetite was gone and all I wanted to do was stay curled up and die and join everyone in heaven. I had just lost like 8 people I had really gotten to know well and felt like shit.
I decided that I wanted to lose them all over again this weekend.
My mother kept calling me this weekend wondering why she hadn’t heard from me, “Where did you disappear to?” she asked.
“I’m watching a show! I’ll call you back!”
“Are you crying?”
“No! Leave me alone!”
My mother has never seen the show so there is no way that she and I can hold a conversation during or after a viewing of the last season of Six Feet Under. It’s impossible. Someone who has never seen the show will not understand the extreme loss you just went through.
Upon my second viewing this weekend, a facet of the show struck me for the first time. I never particularly liked Claire. I mean, who did? She was a whiny, selfish, immature bitch. However, the final scene where Claire says goodbye to her family and drives off to New York, to her future, to begin her life with no idea what is in store, really struck a chord with me.
I thought, “I had that drive! I had that drive where I was starting my life!” But instead of a Prius and Sia and flashes of the deaths of me and everyone I know, I was blissfully driving my 1997 Ford Taurus on route 40 from the East Coast to California. In fact, I didn’t know at the time that my epic drive from childhood into adulthood was just that. I was simply driving my car across country for a college semester away in LA. Little did I know that within those four months I would be offered a job in LA that would keep me there. If I had known that, my drive would have been more romantic to say the least. There were tears, but mostly a sense of excitement for what the semester would hold for me. When I was offered the job I left the car in LA, flew home for a couple of weeks, and went through the protocol of telling college, boyfriend, and friends that I was leaving New York. That farewell came in the form of a flight back to LA and I’m sure it was difficult. So difficult that I’ve completely forgotten it. No poetic or flowery recollections of those final moments that I said goodbye to the two most important people in my life- my mother and grandmother- and relocated to the second largest city in America where I knew no one. Completely forgot the moments of that significant part of my life.
I mean, I’m sure I can make it up if and when I ever need to write about it- “And as they called boarding for my flight that would take me thousands of miles away from the only life I ever knew, I held my mother and grandmother as if it were to be for the last time. My mother’s warm tears fell onto my bare shoulders- the shoulders already supporting a tank top in anticipation of the Southern California breeze- far, far away from the frigidness of New York. I let my body become fully aware of this moment- the weight of my loved ones’ bodies against my own, the stiff wisp of my grandmother’s sprayed hair against my cheek, the gurgle of phlegm building up in my mother’s throat- and pretended that for a moment this was all just a movie.”
The second most important road trip in my life came in the form of my move from Los Angeles to Austin. This trip I remember. This trip I romanticized. This trip I documented. It’s because that was all I could do. When I was moving to LA, I was going for a job. The excitement overshadowed any creative objectivity I could have had at the time. When I moved to Austin, I had nothing- no job, no friends- the only thing I had was my creativity. I was moving to Austin for it. I had reclaimed it from the toothy grip of Los Angeles and ran far away. That trip I believed I was living a television show. I had my soundtrack, I had my forced narrative, and my longing gazes outside the window onto the southwest landscape. This trip may have stuck with me more because I wasn’t leaving my family, I was leaving something bad in search of something good.
Here is to hoping that other significant moments in my life come in the form of other road trips. I should probably keep an emergency CD of twelve tracks of Sia’s “Breathe Me” in the car.