As Twin Peaks fans, we will often be asked by other fans which character we are the most similar to, or we relate to the most. It’s a game we all like to play, and often there are several answers as we consider the people we were in 1989 compared to the people we are now.
My answer has always been that I am ‘a grown-up Laura.’
There are a lot of us out here. That’s something I discovered while interacting in online groups this summer. Both male and female versions. As fans who generally watched, and loved, the show alone for all these years, it is extraordinary to discover just how many kindred spirits are out there.
The first time I answered that, I said I was lucky to have survived and to still be here. Another fan responded that luck has nothing to do with it. ‘If you are a Laura, and are still here and are okay, you saved yourself,’ he replied. ‘You were the hero of your story and I applaud you.’
And he was absolutely right, to the point of making me cry. One thing about this summer for those of us who were there the first time, is that it has regressed us to our teenage selves. Sitting down to watch a new episode every week and hearing those first notes of the theme tune with no idea of what was to come takes us back to the excitement of the first time. With those feelings come a lot of cutting memories that have pulled open old wounds.
I suppose in an essay like this, you are supposed to go into detail and pour out the darkest corners of your soul. I’m not going to do that. Details aren’t important anyway. Our demons come in different shapes and forms, and none are more or less important than the rest.
I will say that I never loved Laura. I still don’t. I could never love her because I saw too much of myself in her, which is a telling statement in itself. I knew her, though. She was with me on drunken nights when I cried into my vodka. She was with me when I sat at my open window in the dead of night with cigarettes I wasn’t supposed to have, imagining my spirit was leaving me in the plumes of smoke. She was with me when I found myself in situations I shouldn’t have been in and was lucky to get out of. She was with me on the too often occasions I watched my own blood trailing down my arms. And she was with me on long nights in the woods, embracing the darkness and feeling a freedom that you never really feel again once your youth is behind you.
In 1992/93, I watched Fire Walk With Me every night for a year. I needed to see something that filled me with hope. I needed to see angels. Every night before I went to sleep, I would think of the Laura’s who wouldn’t make it through till morning. I remember praying every night for God to give my life to another Laura, someone who deserved it more and would do it better. But every morning I woke up, and day by day, it got a little brighter in the world, and a little easier to breathe.
For the next ten years, sometimes things got better, and sometimes they got much worse. And sometimes things happened that were out of my control but still stayed with me like a dead weight well into recent months.
And sometimes I have those strange moments when I look outside of myself and realise how far I have come.
I’m the one who had to cling on to my spirituality and my dreams. I’m the one who had to sit myself down and make a decision whether to let myself end up living in a squat, numbing my thoughts with drugs every day, or whether to try one more time to follow my ambitions as far as they would take me.
My boyfriend at the time ended up on the streets, addicted to heroin, and later committed suicide in the woods on a cold October night. Once you get sucked into that downward spiral, it is very hard to climb back out. It’s like a sinkhole.
People like me and him didn’t get angels in the night to make our bonds fall away. We didn’t get dream figures in the woods to take our hands and lead us home. Most people don’t. Instead we get the darkness of the trees and the blackness of burnt oil, and the only glimmer of light is the hope we can retain inside us through it all. It’s the hardest thing in the world to hold on to, and sometimes people are forced to let go.
This summer has taken us all back to the beginning, and in that way, has completed the circle. This season has bridged the gap between the 14 year old me who wanted to die, and the 41 year old me who is very grateful to still be here. The bridge has been crossed, the weight has been lifted, and it feels like it’s finally time to say goodbye to the old Laura and let her go into the night for the last time.
So I want to say to everyone who managed to hold on and still be here, to all the grown-up Laura’s, male or female, the same words that were said to me – you are the hero of your story, and I applaud you.