Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Living Amongst the Dead or NYC Post Number 1

I don't know why I haven't talked about my New York trip until now. It's not like it hasn't affected me... I've wanted to go to the Big Apple for as long as I've been interested in the arts. I tend to associate it with the hub of American Society and Culture - there is so much diversity in the way of fashion, media, music, ethnicity and the like. I was always a little afraid of a place embodied on so many of the crime and punishment style tv shows, but I was drawn to both the light and the dark that the city represented to me.

I think my hesitance to talk about it all stems from the fact that it's ALL I talked about for awhile. After I got home, I spent 2 weeks going over and editing photos... I was kind of mentally exhausted and overwhelmed by all the New York-iness. Once I put the pictures up on-line, I put it to bed for awhile so I could actually dream/live/breathe something local for a bit.

For the first several days of the trip, I was in what New Yorkers refer to as the Southern Tier. How do I know this? Because every time I said Western or Northern New York, I was mocked and corrected with lightning speed. The Southern Tier includes Buffalo, Rochester, Batavia and Niagara Falls - all of which I either spent time in or drove through.

One of my favorite parts of these first few days was the Mount Hope cemetary in downtown Rochester. Mike's dad (after learning he had terminal cancer) requested to be buried in the old part of the cemetary. Old, like "olde." There were gravestones there dating back to the 1600 & 1700's. Frederick Douglass was buried there. I thought it was beautiful. In the new part of the cemetary, while still neat to see, things were more organized and planned. Headstones were in neat rows and in a fairly good state of repair. It was respectful and solemn and everything a good cemetary should be. The "olde" part of the cemetary was all shades of Poe and Rice and Hester Prynne. The crosses were old and ornate. Some of the engraved dates on the headstones had eroded away. There were large angels, seemingly menacing or peaceful depending on the way the light played over their carved faces. There were olde churches and icy crypts. It was one part macabre, one part poetry and all very... peaceful. Which was surprising to me given my view of the supernatural. Which is that I believe in it.

I was the kid who watched a couple of scary movies and could never shake the images of gore and violence from my brain. I didn't like Scream or any of the popular thriller-type movies because I don't like to feel like I'm going to be grabbed or stalked by every shadow. I'm the one with the over-active imagination, the one who can't keep hollywood special effects in perspective. I'm the one who slept with a nightlight until I was 12 and practically pole vaulted into my bed every night because I was sure something was going to grab my ankle. I'm the one who got kicked out of our neighborhood halloween house as a kid because I turned around and whacked the hell out of some vampire character with my pillowcase chock full of sweetarts.

I believe in all that stuff - the made-up stuff that makes you scream and the Marston House kind of creepy phenomena that can't be explained away. We are not alone.

In light of all this, I was convinced at the end of my trip to the cemetary that I could live there. I would be a groundskeeper. I would take long, solitary walks at night. I would commune with whatever wandering spirit wanted to while the time away under a full moon.

It was just that cool.

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