Une Âme Solitaire: Fans in a Living Novel – Jill (Part I)

As I compile fan stories for Une Âme Solitaire, I typically blend direct quotes with my impressions; tapering and honing my subjects’ question responses into a narrative I’d like to read. When I asked Jill to discuss her experiences as a Twin Peaks fan, she treated me to a rich story directly from her heart; already written with little need for editing. I’ll present her two-part story here to you as close to the original format as I can, preserving Jill’s passion, care, and fanaticism the best I can…

Twin Peaks as a Path to Finding One’s Way – Jill’s Story (Part I)

“The show has been a giant gold ball, kissed by David Lynch and sent to us, and I feel like it’s each of our responsibility to take care of it and share it equally. To do anything less is to cheapen it and discard its significance to others. But I think we’re all doing a damn fine job.”

– Jill

Jill Watson with John Pirruccello at the Twin peaks festival
Jill and John Pirruccello during the 2017 Twin Peaks Festival

Jill’s stepfather Wilbur was the executive secretary of Puget Power, the local power company that runs the power plant at Snoqualmie Falls. When Jill was in the 5th grade, her stepfather came home talking about how Puget Power negotiated with the Snoqualmie Tribe to convert the Snoqualmie Falls Lodge into a luxury hotel, which became the Salish Lodge, featured as the Great Northern in Twin Peaks. She attended the grand opening at the end of her 7th grade year, and has vague memories of being up at the Lodge for some of the filming; seeing saddle shoes and plaid, which reminded her of her school uniforms. She was more interested in climbing the trees in the park next door to the hotel. She knew about the show, but was not allowed to watch. Jill’s parents would sometimes let her stay up to watch the opening credits, but never the show. Being the only person in the house who could program a VCR, she recorded the show each time it aired and then watched it after school before her parents got home from work. She says that she felt like a bird imprinting on its mother must feel: taking in every detail with total awe and affection.

“The thing that struck me first was the pacing of conversations. They were slow and drawn out, and intense. The sounds and music implied heavy mystery, and I was fascinated. I’d been hanging out at a soft rock radio station with my older sister (not related by blood, but we’re sisters) since I was small, and was familiar with deliberate pacing and using the right music mix for emotional impact. This show was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and I was hooked. When Donna was trying to be badass like Laura, chatting with Maddie while smoking, and not drinking Cherry Coke in the RR? That was who I wanted to be, and I wanted to carry that music around with me everywhere. I did. I was obsessed with Bette Midler’s old comedy records at the time, and banished them quickly in favor of Angelo Badalamenti. I have been a soundtrack/musical score nerd ever since. I never quite reached “YOU’RE MY DADDY!”-level coolness like Donna did, but I sure tried!”

– Jill

Donna Smokes in the Double R Diner
Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle) leans in to share some juicy Double R secrets

Jill held onto those tapes, and watched them over and over again, sharing Twin Peaks evangelically with anyone whom she thought would see past the pie-and-coffee quirkiness to the important stuff beneath it. Even after she was kicked out of her parents’ house out at 17, started college in another state, got kicked out, then struggled and fought her way into the adult world, she kept one foot in Twin Peaks. Every chance she had, she’d hike to the base of the falls. She drove around in the dark, watching and listening to the Douglas Firs in the wind, smoking; imagining that this town was the fictional town, where things weren’t always what they seemed.

“I’d gone to summer camp right by the Big Ed’s Gas Farm set, and frequently would walk the grounds, smoking my cigarettes and pretending James would show up on his Harley to drive me away. It was a fun fantasy! It also helped me make sense out of the stupid things I was doing involving drugs and boys/men. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer? That hit hard. Fire Walk With Me? Just as hard. Those two things directly impacted the course of my life, but not until I pulled my head out, and did some real work.”

– Jill

Big Eds Gas Farm Twin peaks
Big Ed’s Gas Farm as depicted in the original Twin Peaks run in 1990

Jill’s favorite scenes from Twin Peaks were those involving compassion, but [as they related to] different scenes from throughout her life. As a self-described lonely kid, she loved anything with James or Bobby being “badass.” She had huge crushes on them, and of course, on Cooper. It wasn’t just about ogling cute guys, though. She wanted to emulate the atmosphere in the RR, and wanted to be just like “edgy Donna.” Jill still chuckles every time she puts on a blue sweater. The compassion on Julee Cruise’s face as she sings to Laura, the compassion the Log Lady shows when she touches Laura’s forehead and falls just short of offering her a way to extinguish the “fire.” The love shown by Doc Hayward, and the kindness Norma put into her pies; there were examples of this kind of compassion throughout the entire show, and it was these moments that stuck with Jill and inspired her to foster troubled teens.

“Being sneaky? That was the goal in my life as I snuck cigarettes and outings into the forests with boys. Twin Peaks provided me with goals! And then the Major Briggs scene happened. The one where he disarmed Bobby with honesty and pure parental love. That had a huge effect on me and encouraged me to cling to any affirmations from adult figures I respected. That’s how I ended up bonding with my not-related-by-blood sister.”

– Jill

Jill Watson at Snoqualmie Falls
Jill at the base of Snoqualmie Falls

As she got older, Jill’s perceptions changed. By her account, she was a mess: an older version of Laura Palmer without the excuse of being a teenager. Bouncing around from man to man, living hedonistically, with just the right amount of self-loathing to make her the subject of her own personal, narcissistically tragic novel. Finally:

“I got on the right medication and started to get over myself. In my 30s, I had some pretty intense violence in my life that led to an inability to have children. Sheryl Lee’s portrayal of Laura’s pain and desperation and loneliness in Fire Walk With Me, coupled with Jennifer Lynch’s eloquent and elegant portrayal of that extreme loneliness, confusion, and feeling of being lost, affected me greatly, and directly caused me to look into helping kids like Laura who had entire towns watching them without actually stepping in to pull them out. I decided that the best way to do this is by bringing them into my home and showing them that it’s okay to be a child, and that while the world is scary, there’s always a home and a person who loves them and will always take them back with open arms. A permanent safe place. Like Julee singing to Laura, to just keep throwing love at their pain has the power to break through, and the crying does turn into something new and strange and wonderful. Fostering is a way to help these kids not just survive, but to thrive. Imagine if Laura Palmer had a safe place, or even just one person who didn’t want anything from her? Just one person. That’s all we are, but what an incredible gift we each have, what an opportunity! If each of us can be that safe place for even one person, can love without expectation, just imagine the light we could spread in the world!

I would never have had the inclination to heal myself and help kids in this specific way if not for those small, loving moments throughout the show and the book. For every single one of those moments, I’m eternally grateful.”

– Jill

Julee Cruise sings Questions in a world of blue
Julee Cruise performs “Questions in a World of Blue” in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Next Time: A Waterfall as a Font of Twin Peaks Friendships – Part II of Jill’s Story

 Connect with Jill!

Jill is active on both Twitter and Instagram @pie4jill

Twin_Petes is a 27 year-plus fan of the show, music, merchandise, and emotions that emanate from the woods surrounding Blue Pine and Whitetail Mountains.  He and his family now reside in what can best be described as the Purple World.  His favorite response to most questions is: “That…cannot be revealed.”  He loves all things Lynch and Frost.  You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @Twin_Petes .

Written by Twin_Petes

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