Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Shining

I am living in an old hotel whose long, red hallways look like “The Shining.”

I first saw “The Shining” in my Freshman year of college, in an auditorium used for Astrology 101 classes. When the shot of the hotel’s exterior came onto the screen, I married it to the memory of a hotel I recalled from childhood, and then with childish logic, saw how different the inside looked in the movie--”It couldn’t be the same.”

But sometime much later, I looked into it, and discovered that although the movie is set outside Denver, and some of the snow scenes are shot in Yosemite and Glacier National Parks, and the interior of the hotel was shot on a movie set, the exterior shot is one and the same of the hotel I recalled--quite mistily--from Oregon in 1978. Timberline Lodge.

I saw “The Shining” in my late teens in 1988; in 1978 I was receiving my First Holy Communion. It was the one year of my youth that we lived on the West Coast. The Church we attended in our small city in Oregon didn’t look like the steepled town parish of ______, Massachusetts, wooden and centuries old. No, this was a funky sixties church, circular and low, with stucco walls and a flat roof. Chairs instead of pews. Inside, a theatre-in-the-round feeling. First Holy Communion felt more West Coast, too--instead of knee-length, bleach-white dresses and patent leather maryjanes, I wore an ankle-length off-white dress with pink ribbons woven in, and a wreath of baby’s breath and two tiny braids in my long, flowing hair. Knowing what the East Coast girls would be wearing, it felt like an early, mother-sanctioned rebellion. But then, I was especially enamored with my sort-of hippie mother in those days.

I was enamored with my grandparents, too. My father’s parents in particular had a way with their grandchildren, knowing how to talk to us, not at us, how to be playful instead of condescending. My grandmother--Mimi--gave me ballet and “the Degas step” and bubble bath and hide-and-go-seek and endless laughing and every once in a while, petit fours from Garfinkle's. How disappointed I was to hear that no one from the East Coat was able to visit for my Communion Day.

But Mimi surprised me. She showed up, a string-tied box of petit fours and all! I wish I remembered more of it, but from here all I recall is my delight and pure surprise that my family hid this wonderful news from me, and that she came, and then after the big day, going to Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge. April warmth fading into mountain cool, mountain snow. Entering the huge doors into the Lodge to find a huge fireplace warming the lobby. The Lodge would only be shelter and warmth for me at that time. “The Shining” would not be released for two more years.

Mimi would live only one more year, almost to the month. The first death I would know.

In the same auditorium at college, in the same semester, I saw the beginning of “A Clockwork Orange,” but walked out during the early rape scene. I did manage to get through to the end of “The Shining.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2007