I dream of living in many places, for many different reasons. I admit, all of my daydreams are charmed as someone blessed enough to have been raised in this country might make them. In the UK is where I would dwell in my renovated Georgian mansion, writing dark fantasy novels, and holding scores of themed parties by candlelight and chandelier. Paris is where I’d take myself on dates, eating far too well after an exhausting day roaming around a museum or ancient structure. Probably keep a cat in a turn-of-the-last-century Bohemian flat. Bali is where I would hide from the world in my little bungalow. Those who happen to recognize me, for my writing of course, will take candid photos of me as I sip tea and read in a little, thatch-roofed restaurant by the tiny, palm-lined road. In New Orleans, I’d rebuild my boveda, light sage, and clean chicken carcasses for dinner on my creaky porch. I would carry some next door for my neighbor. The one on my left (in this fantasy I actually like my neighbor).
The Hudson Valley is where I would escape to do most of my boldest writing. I’m really into the idea of small, temperate towns on the Atlantic coast. Maybe it has something to do with my propensity for horror films? Maybe, for me, the intriguing spirit of danger and the unknown live in orange leaves, whistling wind, and creaky, old turn-of-the-century houses at the end of the block.
I would live in that creaky old house at the end of the block, by the way. And there were plenty to spare in Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park where I traveled for a few days to shoot ‘Cog-cist’.
Colonial charm hit me right away. One could almost smell the witch-burnings and apple pie. A bell jangled as I entered the tiny reception building of the motel where I would be staying. I was so struck by the warm and eerie design of the room that I forgot I still had glitter and purple makeup all over my face from the day’s earlier shoot (it was a scifi short). The older woman at the front desk smiled, nervous but polite. She eyed me as I signed in.
“What brings you to town?” she asks.
I remember my makeup and laugh. “Oh! A small film I’m in. That’s all.”
She breaks out into laughter as well. Hands me a key to the room farthest away from reception, but closest to the motel cafe which was more of a glorified soda pub, really. I thank her. Food over friends… It can be a thing sometimes. Fight me about it.
My red wood-paneled room was pristine but humble. Smelled of fruit and decorative soap. That evening, the lights flickered out when my minifridge drew too much power. In the back, through my bathroom window, dark bushes cloaked the view of the empty antique shop beyond it. In the front, near the exit, a tiny writing table faced toward the parking lot where the motel cafe’s neon sign glowed blue through my blinds. The darkened windows of a funeral home gawked out from the otherside of the parking lot, and across the street. It was close enough to be seen, but not enough to creep me out. Something that is fairly easy to do.
It was perfect. I really got some great journaling done during those two days. It only excited me more when, on the following day, we arrived at our boom op’s grandparents’ home where we would be completing our second day of shooting. It sat perfectly amidst enormous fields running toward distant mountains to the front, and rocky, temperate forests leading down to a small creek in the rear. Even the interior of the home itself looked like one of the paintings you sometimes see hanging in dusty, old bookstores. Spread across every wall of the house’s lower level, creating one giant panorama, was a painted mural depicting a natural, Hudson Valley scene. Birds fluttered up by the mouldings. Tiny rivers disappeared behind a recliner. A basket of chopped dry wood and crumpled newspaper sat beside the refurbished, nineteenth century furnace that accented the living room. It was a strangely warm day for early spring, but visions of my writing beside its warm glowing light persisted in my mind.
Walking out toward the road during lunch, I snapped a few photos. All of them would turn out unusable, unfortunately. I breathed deep, standing in the middle of a hissing field. This is a place I’d like to visit again. Maybe for a bit longer and while the leaves are a bit redder. Who knows. Given a week, I might actually be able to edit one of my million, unreleased spec fiction shorts enough to consider some submissions.