August 2001-July 2003
13 Narcissus Drive
On September 10th, 2001, at about 4AM I watched the documentary Trekkies. Graduating from college with no job prospects in sight, I fell back into the insomnia that characterized my teens and twenties. A few weeks ago, I had returned from a birthday weekend visiting my sister in Boston, falling in love with a particular sidewalk of Prince Street in the North End. In love I fall hard, and very specifically. The day I got back from Boston, my dad told me he was retiring. For some reason I started crying. With college now behind me, it felt like the door of my youth was firmly closing. Little did I know then that it would take another decade to feel like an adult. Like most people at 21, I was entering a long span of free-form, free-floating indecision, alternating between desperate hunger and utter hopelessness. Like Trekkies, this time in my life was only important because of context.
Returning to the house I grew up in seemed a bit like defeat, but also became a well-needed break. The last quarter of college quite thoroughly kicked my ass. I had been running hard for over a year and could have used a little rest. Two years of a rest was so not my plan. Anyway, my father was enjoying his well-needed break of retirement. After his last day – before Labor Day weekend – questions of regret were asked. He had none. He worked in the World Trade Center, a building he always said was the safest building in the world; the security ever-present after the ’93 bombing. After the 11th, he could only say he was lucky. And that he’d rather be lucky than anything else.
The McKeevers are not an outwardly emotional lot by nature. I’m probably the most free with my emotions, for good and for bad. I have a propensity to wallow, to dwell, to examine and reexamine long after most people have forgotten a slight, a misused word or a unkindness. Retribution is quick and forever. I can sever ties easily, but am terrible at maintaining them. The project of myself has been ongoing. Now in my 30s, I’m bored of it. The circus of introspection seems, from a distance, to be a delay. Proof that you are working and adapting. But thinking and talking about changing and actually changing are two different things. Says someone with a blog.
Writing now is different than writing when I was 21. It feels like forward motion rather than a way to keep people at an arm’s length. But back then, I wasn’t even entirely convinced I should write. I was wasn’t ready to forsake directing. But in the 2 years of a “break” after college, something changed. I changed. I always change. I always leave. I moved out of the room of my childhood.
The green carpet I could pretend was grass, the primary color flowers of the wallpaper that looked like a laughing Bert from Sesame Street, the temporary door erected one winter for my grandmother that became permanent when I was 12. I moved a few feet away into what used to be my sister’s room. It was much bigger than mine and, after I rearranged the furniture, I could actually fit my computer inside. Too bad the room was so pink. Those years were tentative steps towards a direction. I rewrote a script from college and made it to the final round in the Sundance labs. Even though I didn’t get in, I took it as a sign. In 2002 I applied to grad school and then I left again.
My parents decided to sell the house sometime in 2002. I was working in a cafe, saving money up for grad school and strangers were coming in and assessing, making changes in their heads. The people who eventually bought the house cut down the tree in our front yard and I will never forgive them. Narcissus was the third word I ever learned how to spell. First name, last name, street name. Phone number. I will likely never forget that telephone number just like a million other images, memories and inches of that house. Too many to mention, it feels wrong to catalogue. I never take pictures of people and places just to take pictures of people and places, to prove that I was there. There has to be a reason. Aesthetics are enough but witness is not.
I was expecting to have the most to say in this section, but there is something too big and unknowable about this time. The house, my family…not easily summed up. It was bookended by time in school, more dramatic times, more quantifiable times. I was lucky to have people who loved me that I could come back to. I was lucky to have a home that could keep me for as long as I needed. And I’d rather be lucky than anything else.