I keep thinking about my 11 days in Greenwood, Mississippi (although one of them was really spent in Oxford). I've been back home now for as many days as I was away and I still don't feel completely like myself. Did this experience change me in ways that won't revert back?
Going to Greenwood was emotional. I visited my grandfather's grave, went into Booker's Place for the first time, met the woman whose son murdered him, learned that Booker Wright was beaten after appearing in the '66 film, rarely got more than a few hours of sleep each night, and got to be a part of making a movie. It was exciting, emotional, exhausting, and weird.
There were many moments when I was raw and exposed with people I hardly knew and may never see again.
A few times in Greenwood I got really tripped up. First, I got punk'd by Po (this post is coming, promise). Then I found myself asking some really terrible questions about my grandfather in an effort to understand the possibilities surrounding his murder. Halfway through our stay in Greenwood some people came forward to say that Booker Wright was mean to them and to certain types of people. I wanted to defend him, but then I remembered that I'd never met him.
Some information came out about my grandmother and a terrible thing that she did. In the end, the filmmakers agreed that particular piece didn't really relate to Booker's story. But I first needed to give them the sordid details of my grandmother's past to help them understand why it didn't relate.
All this to say that, by the time I got home, I felt like I'd been through an emotional washing machine that was only set to spin.
To say that I feel powerless is an understatement. I have felt, continue to feel, and will always feel incredibly grateful for the team of bright and hardworking researchers who are uncovering source after source for this work. But I'm not the first to know anymore. Sometimes I'm the last to know. Sometimes it feels like every secret in my family is in danger of being uncovered and examined with a cold objectivity that only sees how we represent the world at large. "Isn't it interesting?"
For the last couple of weeks the director (Ray De Felitta) and the producer (David Zellerford) have been going over the footage and trying to make decisions about the direction of the film and what more they may or may not need to go back to Greenwood to shoot.
I'm not there. They're in New York and I'm in Phoenix. My face, my raw emotions, my instinctive reactions, and a variety of perspectives on my grandfather's character were recorded and are being examined by a room full of guys I met three months ago. They've offered to send me any clips I'd like to review, but for some reason I'm not quite ready to see any of it.
They recorded a lot. A lot of me and a lot of other people. There are several directions they can take with this film. Sometimes I find myself hoping that all the stuff with me and my family was junk and that they'll have to take whatever else they have and leave my family behind. I know that's unlikely.
Most days, I'm excited and thrilled to be part of such an interesting project. In my normal life I home school two princely boys and spend the better part of each day with oatmeal in my hair and tempura paint on my arms. This journey is simply a treat.
On the other hand, there are days like today when this project is making it hard for me to feel centered. The control freak in me wants to "stop by" the New York office and look over their shoulders to see exactly what they're doing.
To get refocused, I'm trying to spend more and more time in my "regular life" doing "regular things". For the first time in a long time I worked today on my home school plans. My boys are going through a dinosaur phase, so I asked them if they wanted to do a unit study on dinosaurs and they were both thrilled.
I think I'll get buried in homeschool planning while I wait for myself to come back.