Chapter 3: Old
*Spoiler alert for Chapter 3: Old
Great American Pastime
The drive-in movie theater. What an American pastime. I honestly have no idea if other countries have drive-in movie theaters, but for me, they are probably in my top five wholly American things. Cars, Hollywood, and community combine for a powerful institution, and I hope we always have them around.
I remember my first trip to the drive-in. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a best friend living right down the street. His dad was a construction worker, and I always thought that was so cool. He had a great work truck with tons of compartments on the sides and a lumber rack over the truck bed that we would hang from like a jungle gym.
Anyway, they took me to the drive-in theater for the first time. I don't remember what movie we went to see (although it may have been Temple of Doom...1984...I would have been about 6 years old), but I do remember that we took couch cushions from my buddy's house and sat on them in the back of the truck. You'll see references to all of this at various points in the book. Shout out to the Webb family for giving me these experiences as a kid!
In this chapter, I wanted to capture the sounds and smells of the drive-in for the reader: exhaust fumes, crumbling asphalt underneath car tires, and the light and color from the screen. I haven't been to the drive-in in decades (there isn't one where I now live), but writing this chapter gave me a sense of comfort that only nostalgia, best friends, and good memories can bring. I need to find one so I can take my son!
Writing these blog posts has been fun. As I think about the music I would use for a Gone to the Movies...movie...someday, I am looking up my favorite bands from the nineties to see what they've been up to lately. I am super excited that many of them are reuniting and releasing new music.
The Nixons is one of these bands. I looked them up, because I think the perfect lead-in music to Dustin and Damon's first trip to the drive-in is a song from The Nixons: Calling Yesterday.
Here we are again beneath these stars
All the same not changing who we are
We must have walked these roads a thousand times
But never stopped to notice what we're missing
- The Nixons, Calling Yesterday
Some of the lyrics are obviously very "on the nose", like being underneath the stars [at the drive-in]. But, the deeper meaning that I applied in the story is that it took a fire that destroyed half of this town to get people to remember that they have this great community institution in their backyard. They drove by it all the time, but didn't realize how important it was until hundreds of people lost their homes and businesses.
The song generally seems to be about appreciating what is around us while so many look past it to the future with technology and urban development. This is something that is very prescient in America today. Conservative ideology wants to protect great American pastimes, but many of us don't have an appreciation for what this antiquated sentiment adds to our communities and American culture.
On the other hand, conserving the nature around us also seems to be a theme in the song, and this is also of great importance to many of us, because we want to pass that down to our children and grandchildren. Balancing all of this is difficult for a nation, but I think we can do it.
This chapter gives us the first story specifically about Holly's (Dustin's wife) mental health, and how it affects Dustin. I have many people in my life that work tirelessly on their mental health challenges, and it sometimes feels like a losing battle.
Watching someone react to things in bizarre ways that are beyond their control is extremely difficult. Crippling anxiety, depression, ADHD, alcohol, nicotine, and drug abuse are all things I have swirling in my family and circle of friends at any given time.
I am thankful to have learned how to better support the people around me with afflictions, but feeling like a supporting character in someone else's life journey can become tiresome. In the story, Dustin feels somewhat like he's been robbed. His life plans seem to always be put aside so he can support Holly through her episodes. As with many of Dustin's influences, I am pulling this directly from my own experience.
Mental health is a central aspect to the book, but I will always wonder if I could have made the stories about it more visceral. It serves as more of a backdrop to our main characters' journey, which is okay. But, if a movie is ever made, I'd like for flashback scenes with Holly to be gripping and somewhat uncomfortable to watch.
If people can see the struggle on screen, or in a book, they may empathize with the person who is suffering. Empathy for people with mental health challenges is the only way we can properly support them in the healing process. I know this from experience, having failed a few times to give my loved ones the support they needed.
I am hoping to use my platform as a writer to bring attention to animal rescue efforts as well as mental health services. I have a few links at the bottom of every blog post for fire recovery efforts and animal rescue. If any of you know of good non-profits for mental health that I can link to, please comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter or Facebook. I really appreciate it!
If the first five chapters of this book compose "Act 1" of the story, then the story of the dog running through traffic in the drive-in is certainly the action sequence of Act 1. My brain enjoys patterns and symmetry (sometimes to a fault), and though I didn't plan out the story to be this formulaic, it makes sense that it turned out this way.
I was thinking of upbeat hard rock songs that the kids throwing rocks might have have been playing in their truck. No idea why, but Down by Stone Temple Pilots popped into my head. The funny thing is the lyrics actually play into the story of Dustin and Damon "meeting" the dog for the first time.
Pleased to meet you, nice to know me
What's the message? Will you show me?
I've been waiting, a long time, now
Now here's the answer, you're all mine now
- Stone Temple Pilots, Down
Something tells me STP didn't write this about a father and son meeting a dog in a run-down drive-in theater (LOL), but as with all well-written songs, we can take from it what we want or need. I was only thinking about the raw sound of the song, but maybe my subconscious informed my choice here more than I realized.
Well, there was a lot to unpack in this chapter. I hope the post wasn't too long, and that you enjoy the songs we're adding to our soundtrack. Come back next time to read more about the introduction of another important character!
Soundtrack (thus far):
Bonus Track: Interstate Love Song - Stone Temple Pilots
Bonus Track: Rockin' Chair - Oasis
Follow as we build the soundtrack on Spotify!