I’ve been riding my bike a lot lately. It’s been very liberating to venture out on bike trails and simply choose what path to take. I haven’t made decisions for just myself in quite a long time. Choosing a path almost feels rebellious. A few weeks ago, I went down a path I’d only seen a couple of other cyclists take. It’s an off-road trail that runs past a wheat field and seems to lead into a bunch of trees. I was feeling a little reckless, so I left the comfortable and populated confines of the normal trail and went down the path alone. It led me to a big house with an iron gate that had a bunch of shit scattered around it. In front of the gate was a huge field covered in trees, mangled bushes and tons of abandoned stuff. Things like a disassembled air fan, several couch cushions and many clothes were on the ground. I’ll bet those objects could tell a good story if they had a chance.It was getting dark and looked like it was going to start raining any minute. I saw a flicker of lightning in the distance. As I sat on my bike looking at the debris and bushes, a thought crossed my mind that has in many places many times before: “This would be a good spot to be murdered in.”
I think about Laura Palmer a lot when I’m riding my bike. Maybe it’s because the trail I usually take runs alongside a river. Maybe it’s because some of the nature reminds me of my home state, Oregon, and of the beauty of the Northwest that we both (might have because she’s a fictional character) lived in and shared. Laura Palmer is one of the few characters I really relate to, which is sort of funny because I don’t even like Twin Peaks. It was a boring TV show for the most part. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, however, is one of the best women’s pictures of the last twenty-five years. I know a lot of people are annoyed the movie exists because it gives away so much of the mystery surrounding Laura, but I love it dearly. Laura's story is tragic. It's full of abuse, guilt, shame and normal teenage stuff like rebellion, experimentation and even love. She was like the Marilyn Monroe of Twin Peaks, simultaneously the most-loved and loneliest, saddest girl in town. Lynch managed to capture and present it all in one gigantic cluster fuck of a movie without judgment or a tremendous amount of pity. He just empathized. Maybe I'll write more about it in the future.I’ve always felt guilty. It’s something I carry around with me constantly, like a cancerous lump in my emotional body that won’t go away no matter how much chemo or holistic medicine I throw at it. Sometimes the lump is bigger and sometimes it’s smaller, but it’s always there. It makes me feel afraid to be happy…like, if I’m happy, then I’m going to be punished in some way. Why should a person who feels as guilty as I do deserve to be happy? Logically, I know that I have absolutely no reason to feel guilty. I’ve made mistakes, sure, but no more than the average bear. I’ve genuinely striven to be a good, kind person. Helping people makes me happier than just about anything. I think the character of Laura Palmer felt similarly. She always felt guilty for things that weren’t her fault, for things she couldn’t control, for the fucked up life she wound up with. We must have done something wrong to deserve all of this pain, right?