For the past two days, I’ve been agonizing over how to start this blog project. I wanted to talk about how I first became conscious of Twin Peaks — a front page photo and article in my hometown paper’s Saturday television section. I even tried writing a sloppy comparison to one’s first time having sex. Instead, I’ve decided to just be forthright about what this television program means to me: Twin Peaks is more than a show that sparked my imagination; it made me feel normal and, subconsciously, learning about Laura Palmer helped me accept and begin recovering from my own trauma.
The first time someone called me weird was in either the third or fourth grade. It was a friend of mine and it made me cry because I thought it meant they didn’t like me. Weird wasn’t good. Weird was different. The weird kids played alone at recess. I already had too much going on in my life that made me feel different so being weird was the last thing I wanted. After a while, if my friends wanted to tease me, they would call me weird, knowing it would make me cry and giving them a little laugh. By the time I entered the seventh grade, I had become an actor. I went along with the crowd, sometimes because I wanted to and other times because I thought they would accept me. I still felt different, though. Sexual trauma will do that to you.
As a child, it was easy to think I was the only kid at school who had been molested. That’s what it was called then. Molested. Today it’s called rape. It was my dirty secret since the age of five and I was terrified of anyone at school finding out. After-school specials and very special episodes portrayed victims (because we weren’t survivors in the late 80s) as objects of pity. The focus was always on the friend or family member dealing with what happened to the victim; never how the boy or girl dealt with the abuse. And good luck seeing a recovery story. Victims were emotionally fragile, needing special handling. They were broken.
I didn’t want to be broken. I didn’t want a deep, dark secret. And I didn’t want to be a statistic. Thanks to Oprah, I knew victims were more likely to become sexually active at a younger age and that they were more prone to additional sexual violence. Yet, as puberty changed my body, I couldn’t stop myself from exploring. To the public, I tried to be what they wanted; at night, I imagined what I wanted: grown men in various positions. I would always feel shame afterwards — good, old-fashioned Catholic shame — and stop for days or weeks. Then I would feel a yearning and I enjoyed my imagination.
So how did I go from pre-teen self-exploration to watching Twin Peaks? I love watching television. The show became popular and, after seeing the paper and network commercials, I wanted to see what the fuss was about. What I found was an instant connection. “Laura had secrets,” Dr. Jacobi tells Agent Cooper. Even though Laura Palmer’s story wasn’t complete until Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, I felt a connection to the seemingly perfect homecoming queen, as well as Audrey, Bobby, Agent Cooper, and even Deputy Andy. I instantly liked them and felt at home in the little town where anything seemed to happen. No one cared if you danced in the middle of a diner or carried around a psychic log. You were accepted.
This little project is not meant to be a review of each episode. It’s an opportunity to visit old memories; to reflect on characters, writing, and directing; and to ruminate on what makes the show special to me.