April 25th, 2004

The Red Tree


We're finally home from Birmingham. We unpacked and went right back out for Thai, and now I think that I shall not leave the apartment again for a week. If I'm really frelling lucky, I can get the story for the subculture anthology done in the next five days and won't have to sprawl over the deadline. Most of the story is in my head — not the plot, but the mood, the characters, the themes; the plot will happen, because that's what plots do.

Late yesterday afternoon, Spooky and I drove out to Shelby County, way the hell out to a little place called Dunavant (truly the corner of "no" and "where"). My grandparents had a house out there when I was a kid and my sister and I spent a whole lot of our childhood in the woods around their land on the side of Sand Mountian. My grandmother finally sold that house in 1981, and I don't think I'd been out there even once in the last 23 years. So, as we neared the place where the house had been, I was amazed that everything was pretty much as I remembered it — the houses, the landscape, etc. That is, until we rounded the very last bend, and I saw that not only had the house my grandparents lived in been torn down and a new house put up in its place, but the woods we played in (and mapped, and made trails in, and walked in with our grandparents, and caught snakes in, and once saved from a forest fire) had been completely leveled, apparently to make room for a housing development. It looked as though a very small nuclear bomb had been detonated. When Poppy and I were writing "Night Story, 1973" for From Weird and Distant Shores, I drew on those woods on Sand Mountain (the story's set in North Carolina, but I've never lived there), on my childhood there, when imagining Lazarus Mountain.

Anyway, though we'd intended to visit the graveyard where my grandfather is buried, the sight of those abolished woods was so sad and dispiriting that I asked Spooky to turn around, and we returned to my mother's, instead. You can't go back, you can't go back, you can't ever go back. I spent much of the evening trying to figure out why anyone would want to build a subdivision anywhere that remote, at least forty-five minutes along narrow country roads from even a small town. But, ultimately, that's beside the point. People do what they do.

I'm so exhausted. I can only hope this entry is anything like coherent.

Tonight I think we're going to start catching up on The Sopranos (Season Three). Tomorrow, I'll be Caitlín the writer again, instead of Caitlín the rememberer. It's safer.