I am on the last night of my visit with family in rural-ish rust belt country, and I keep getting reminded over and over of the movie The Royal Tenenbaums. I hate that movie for a multitude of reasons, which will become clear as you read this. I think it is a fine movie that is well written, acted, and directed, and because of its accuracy in tone and structure I hate it. At the same time I am visiting my family, E3 has been going on all week. For those of you not aware, E3 is a conference of video game companies who get together in LA for the purpose of putting on press conferences to show off their new releases and to network with other companies.
My mom’s side of the family is from this town and I have never lived here. I have been estranged from them my entire life but still have kept abreast of their doings through my mom and some relatives that I talk to once in a while. It’s got this very ephemeral quality to it for me since every time I visit it’s as if the town isn’t changing at all, but all the people are. It is as if I am unstuck in time, dipping in my toe periodically to see an American experiment. I am affected by it and not affected by it concurrently.
My grandparents were pillars of the family and were the nexus of a large part of the community up here. At one point the entire irish and depression-era community were dependent upon my family. A couple generations through and with the death of my grandparents passing, everything fell apart. People stopped talking to each other, gatherings slimmed, Christmas cards stopped, and some people moved. Lots of varying levels of family members and friends have died since then as well, and the corners of the family become ever distant. A once prominent wing of my family: rich, beautiful, smart, established, large 5-child family has been similarly dissipated. Three of the children are on other land masses now, and the ones left here have been beaten down by mental health issues, substance abuse, and financial hardship. Another wing of the family blessed with riches and opportunity have been feeding on the tablescraps of the economy now, I found out. The family business is going the way of the cassette tape, and nobody else in town is picking up the slack. Can you spot the parallel with my movie reference?
As I have been witnessing the slow decay of this Macondo, I have been watching, ostensibly, the future, my future, through the E3 livestreams online late at night. I am pursuing a future in game development, dear reader, and have grand plans to make a good living from it. As I envision a bright future, I strangely feel an obligation to this town, its past, and the people in it, despite never having lived here. Every structure needs some fasteners in it, and there aren’t any left. It has come undone and there is no sign of it restructuring. With those feelings, I also find myself wanting to close my eyes and move forward whilst leaving everything and everyone behind because that would be the easy way. What’s the point of trying to build a structure which will inevitably decay? The once strong pillars of this building have eroded, and all that exists is trellises and vines. I want to help, one day I want to help, but everything ends.
I will let the town be swept away by the wind but will plant my foot in the dirt if I can.