Welcome to Twin Peaks – A Personal Reflection

It was October 3, 2014. It seems silly looking back on it—it was a workday for me, after all—but I was lying in bed, covers up to my chin, scrolling through my phone and delaying the inevitable, when I first saw the tweet that would rock our collective world rocket across my Twitter feed:

“Dear Twitter Friends: That gum you like is going to come back in style!”

 

Three days later, another one:

“Dear Twitter Friends… it is happening again.”

Again, I was in bed. Again, it was a workday. I didn’t know it at the time but I was just entering what was to become my second major bout of depression in four years. And Twin Peaks was about to see me through it.

Just like it had the first time.


I was twenty-five when I first properly entered the town of Twin Peaks, but I was five years old when it first got its hooks into me. My parents tell me I was a precocious child—reading my father’s university textbooks by the time I was three years old, my heart absolutely set on becoming an astronomer or a paleontologist or a veterinarian, talking everyone’s ear off at the slightest provocation—so I suppose it shouldn’t shock any of us that I used to sneak out of my room and hide behind the living room sofa to watch TV I shouldn’t have been watching. I have so many memories of laying on my belly, my cheek pressed to the cool hardwood, my baby blanket clutched in my arm, watching late night talk shows, episodes of China Beach and St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues because these were the shows grownups watched, and I so wanted to be a grownup.

Your author (aged 5) in the fall of 1990, shortly after sneakily watching the entire first season of Twin Peaks

This was how I first came to see homecoming queen Laura Palmer, with her blonde hair piled high atop her head and all held in place by a delicate tiara, smiling out at me from the other side of the TV screen. I knew she was dead. I knew that a man named BOB had killed her. And I knew that the detective assigned to her case spent his sleeping hours visiting with her in a Red Room alongside a dancing little man who spoke backwards.

Twin Peaks frightened me so badly that the name Laura Palmer gave me sweaty palms and heart palpitations until I was well into junior high school; I didn’t go to my great grandmother’s graveside funeral service when she died because I was afraid that the casket lift mechanism would fritz out like it did at Laura’s funeral when Leland leapt down on top of it. (I wish I was kidding about that…)

Even at twenty-five, I had reservations about starting this show. I told my dad it was way too scary for me to watch. He just laughed and showed me the Season Two opening scene.

You know the one: Agent Cooper’s been shot, and then the room service waiter comes in with the warm milk Cooper ordered, and fifteen minutes later a Giant shows up…*scratches head* *thinking emoji*

So I still wasn’t convinced that the show wasn’t going to terrify me, but I was baffled and intrigued enough to give it a shot. And what a life-changing decision that was. I binged the entire series over Spring Break (when I should have been marking essays for my final practicum term before I graduated from the University of Alberta’s teaching program.) That was April 2010. I ended up watching the series in full another three times by the end of May. I had become a dedicated fan.  I was obsessed.

There are many possible reasons for this, my addictive personality notwithstanding. But I think the biggest reason is the simplest: I needed Twin Peaks.

You see, the show entered my life fully at a very low point. Looking back now, it’s easy to see that I had been dealing with depression for most of my life; anxiety, depression’s annoying cousin, has likely also plagued me for as long as I can remember. Maybe that’s the reason for my precociousness; maybe my deep desire to grow up has led me to feel perennially uncomfortable with the now, as I constantly peer ahead to What’s Up Next. I have spent so many days waiting for a series of tomorrows that never seen to arrive, leaving me with a slew of todays that I don’t know how to handle. Medication helps, but so does meditation (and I have David Lynch to thank for that, too.) But it’s a constant struggle to find the right balance, and I’m still learning.

In the early spring of 2010, however, that cycle of depression/anxiety was relatively new to me; I had only been diagnosed formally a few months earlier, and I had zero tools in my toolbox. I didn’t know what any of this looked like, and I didn’t know that it would end. So what should have been a time of personal triumph for me—completing my Education degree, starting my career, marrying my best friend—had, by April, become one of perpetual…nothing. I couldn’t see the end of the tunnel; I had no map, no guideposts, no way of knowing if I’d make it. The lone bright spot was the discovery of this incredible show that suddenly consumed me, giving me a reason to get out of bed every day…if only to check the Dugpa message board for new posts about this pet theory I liked, or to find another chapter in that latest fan fiction posted overnight to the author’s LiveJournal.

I had to make it, because I didn’t have all of the answers yet.

To many, it seems silly that a TV show would light this kind of fire beneath a person, but if you speak to any other Twin Peaks fan, they simply get it. It’s kind of amazing. I didn’t know it at the time but I was setting out on a journey that would put me in touch with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the chance to meet, and that they and this show were going to play an instrumental role in helping me do battle for my mental health.


Fast forward to 2014. The announcement that Twin Peaks was coming back to our TV screens arrived about five weeks before I was forced to step away from a job I loved—as a preschool teacher in a specialized program for kids who were Deaf and hard-of-hearing—to focus on my health. That fall/winter was the darkest period of my life, and some days the only thing that helped was Twin Peaks. I could, for 44 minutes, turn off my mind and become reabsorbed into that world; I could meet my old friends, listen to their problems. I’d follow Audrey to One Eyed Jack’s; I’d worry about how Shelly was going to get away from Leo; I’d weep for Sheriff Truman’s loss. And I kept hoping every time that there would be different outcomes for Laura and Maddy and Agent Cooper, breaking my heart a little more each time that hope was dashed. And I kept trying on new theories, new ways of looking at the show, piecing the puzzle together in new ways hoping I’d stumble on a combination that explained the things that didn’t quite add up otherwise.

And when things were at their bleakest, when it felt impossible to soldier on, I kept thinking that I couldn’t give up.

I had to make it, because I didn’t have all of the answers yet.

A major tie-in novel was announced (I had to make it.) The episode order doubled from 9 episodes to 18 (I had to make it.) David Lynch returned to the project with gusto, along with most of the original cast (I had to make it.)

It was really, really happening.

I had to make it.

I had to see how this story ended.

And that’s a common thing I’ve heard from a lot of people over the last few months, especially since my husband Aidan and I tapped into the zeitgeist and started our podcast, which has helped us meet like-minded people from all around the world: there’s this hope that nothing too bad will happen between now and then. It’s as if an entire fandom has spent the last two and a half years with bated breath, just in case. We weigh the pros and cons of each long-haul flight, look both ways an extra half dozen times when we cross the street, hope our doctor won’t be too concerned about that mole. Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum. 

Now that the wait is almost over, it seems hard to put into words just how we feel. There’s certainly excitement as people make premiere plans, and a fair amount of butterflies-in-the-stomach unease when we consider the great span of time between the last episode and the next one and all the things that have changed, not just in the world of television but in the lives of these characters, of their creators, and in our own lives, since the last time we all came together. And when we sit down to watch the show at precisely 9pm ET on May 21, wherever we are in the world, there will be a sense of relief, I’m sure, knowing that we’re seconds away from feeling that magic pull into this world that we know will be both wonderful and strange.

But there’s a sense of sadness knowing that the series—which premieres on May 21st and will run every Sunday until September 3rd—will eventually come to an end. There’s another book coming out on Halloween, and certainly this series will inspire multiple rewatches, just as the first two seasons have done over the last quarter century. And no one has closed the door entirely on new episodes after these ones.

But at some point there will be no new Twin Peaks.

There will be a final, final end.

It’s a little bit like packing for a holiday knowing full well the next time you put all these things in your suitcase it will mean it’s time to go home. You know it’s coming, and you can put off thinking about it for as long as possible, but eventually you’ll have to face facts.

What are we going to do when it’s really all over?

I know, for me, just as I’ve done before, I’ll probably slip the Pilot into my Blu-ray player and start the whole journey over again from the very beginning. Because I’m sure even though it will end, there will be new mysteries to uncover, new pieces of the puzzle to assemble, new paths forming…one stone at a time.

And I know I won’t have all the answers yet…

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