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the lost years

I spent almost 25 years living alone in New York. There might be a moment on a shoot, when it became clear we would be running late. Phones were slid from pockets, as the crew had hushed conversations with their loved ones. That solemn, apologetic tone was the same no matter who was talking as they answered the question "When will you be home?" I had no one, nothing but an empty apartment and some dirty dishes. I had half-written books, and guitars leaning against the walls. There was film in the cameras, waiting to be developed.

I have almost no memory of these years now.

Right now, V is sick. Nothing terrible, but enough to stay home and parade around the apartment in her favorite pyjamas. N is cooking various treats for her, unable to predict which one she will actually eat. The doorbell rings, and it might be a doctor visiting from the local clinic but it is her sister. The rooms are full of conversation and fresh cups of coffee. I try not to step on the toys that are a…

toys

We were walking on the street and there was a toy gun on the ground. I saw no children around, and in one action snatched it up. 
E looked at me.
"Isn't that someone's toy?" She asked.
"We'll bring it back when we are done with it." I explained.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"I think they didn't really want it anyway." She said.

The plastic gun with its bright yellow handle sat on the windowsill by my desk for a few weeks. I used to shoot a BB gun when I was a boy. My brother had one too. My father had guns in the house, for hunting. Sometimes the only reason there was meat on the table was because of those guns. The Lone Ranger was a big deal back then, more interesting, more accessible than Superman or Spiderman. He had a pistol, and a horse. I used to walk around the hallways of my elementary school squinting into the distance because it seemed that was something that cowboys always did, especially the Lone Ranger on his Palomino.

As soon as we left the farm, guns were no longer fascinating. I preferred cameras, watches, a cheap guitar. The Lone Ranger doll, broken and scratched was forgotten. It never even made the move to that small town. Something flipped over. It was David Bowie and Kurt Vonnegut, the B52's and The Clash that littered my shelves then.




I try to create projects to do with E in the summertime, while all of her friends are in their country houses, or in Italy or Miami, Thailand, some places she cannot even find on a map. These collaborations are distractions, and they are a joy to create. I script and concept and she reads all of my notes. I show her the way I develop ideas. Sometimes we shoot a little test, and she hovers behind my shoulder, munching on almonds as I manipulate the footage. She nods sometimes. It all makes sense to her. The story is a tough one, and we handle it carefully. She does not shy away from the truth, but we don't push it.

Then we record, we shoot, we edit, I make some music, we mix, we re-record the narration, the colors all get adjusted, graphics, and then it all percolates, like a pot of chili waiting to thicken, maturing. We watch a screener. There are always a few little cosmetic fixes, but it works.

She cracks one of those quiet, satisfied smiles. She understands why I took the plastic gun from the ground a few weeks ago now.

It had a story to tell.






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