When You See Me Again, It Won’t Be Me: Growing Up With Laura Palmer by Audrey Lee

Fire Walk With Me // CBS Showtime (c) 2017

The first person who told me to watch Twin Peaks died last year. Through Facebook, the passing was quickly revealed: friends, closer to them than I was, posted nostalgic photographs and memorial messages to their timeline alongside “rest in peace” and “I’ll miss you” condolences. When I sat down to type my part of this infinite stream of grief, I found myself trying to remember a person I hadn’t seen for over two years – since the summer of 2014, when I was fifteen years old, experiencing hefty manic episodes caused by undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and watching Laura Palmer’s corpse be rolled over to reveal her bloodless, frostbitten facade. The death spread across the internet to friends, friends of friends, and minor acquaintances the same way Laura’s murder reached the ears of the 51,201 residents of Twin Peaks, Washington: word of mouth, yet this time, on screens instead of through lips and rotary telephones.

I closed my computer in the midst of typing my own post because the most I remembered of this person two years later was that they had taught me everything I needed to know about Twin Peaks, as well as having shown me how to sew a patch onto, say, a denim jacket or pair of softened, worn jeans. I was early into my senior year of high school at the time of the passing, waiting with baited breath for David Lynch’s May-scheduled return. Twin Peaks was, and still is, my favorite show, and seemingly a part of my own being as I found myself growing throughout high school in the context of Laura Palmer’s multifaceted identity as a teenage homecoming queen-cum-cocaine addict. Like many viewers, I found the characters breaking into bits and pieces I could relate to; their complexity combined with the 1990’s campiness gave the show its foggy, pine-laden, Pacific Northwestern aesthetic it is so commonly associated with. Despite my shared moniker with resident femme fatale Audrey Horne, I saw Laura, and I saw my own reflection on my Netflix screen. She was a seemingly happy social butterfly guarding carefully kept secrets in a diary, writing about drug use and supernatural occurrences. I was journaling about my own experiences with a mental illness I didn’t dare share information about with even my boyfriend or closest relatives. The strangeness of my pubescent life seemed interchanged with the storylines of Twin Peaks.

The return of the show not only heightened my continued obsession of this mysterious place and rekindled a nostalgia of watching the first two seasons. It brought back memories of the person who introduced me to Twin Peaks in a sort of inexplicable grief. While they are now gone, their legacy lives with me in the form of the Lynchian horror that gripped me from first watch of the pilot episode. This is the person that first told me about the show that would change how I saw myself, influence my interests, bring me to tears and trigger a yearning for more with every episode. It’s nothing new for someone to find themselves in a TV character, nor is it for a show to bring back forgotten memories. But it’s happening again: the remembrance of people and times now passed that I associate with Twin Peaks makes it all the more personal.

Audrey Lee is 18 years old and attends Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is the winner of the 2016 DeSales University Poetry Contest and her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Columbia College of Chicago. She has attended programs by the University of Virginia, Ithaca College, and the University of Iowa. Her work has been featured in or is forthcoming from Rookie Magazine, Apiary Magazine, The Ellis Review, and Teen Vogue. Her chapbook “Unknown Futures” will be released in 2018 with Red Paint Hill Publishing. Find her at audreymorganlee.weebly.com.

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