A Film by Joe Johnston
What appears on its surface to be a simple letter to friend could also be a deep confession of a long summer's depression and ultimate dalliance with suicide before a gradual recovery. I started taking pictures of the street by my kids' school every morning after dropping them off. I didn't have specific intent for them but once this epistolary story came together around Thanksgiving of last year, I knew they'd be the perfect backdrop.
It was a sincere pleasure to get your postcard from Aruba this summer. Looks like a wonderful trip. Things were a great deal in flux when your postcard arrived, and I apologize for not replying sooner. I didn't have much luck dragging my brain across the whetstone this summer. I was generally foggy, that summer fog that always lasts way longer than I want it to. I spent the early fall re-reading Hemingway's short stuff, which didn't do much for my mood. The fathers and the sons and the suicides and the woods. I did a lot of walking in the woods. In early October, I got lost in the woods for the first time in a decade. Honestly lost. Completely turned around. I exited the forest two miles from where I thought I was and had to stumble like a hobo through suburban streets I didn't even know existed to get back to my car. It was exhilarating, Jack, but I didn't tell my kids about it.
Now the leaves have nearly all dropped. I don't understand summer and the people that come alive in summer. They're singing a song I just don't know the words to. I come alive in the fall. Maybe everything dying reminds me that I haven't.
Now my thoughts have turned to Thanksgiving. My soul is always energized by Thanksgiving. Thoughts of those Thanksgiving nights back in high school when we'd gather on my porch around the burn barrel and cut through the fat of potatoes and gravy by passing that pint of Old Crow back and forth. Everyone was always buzzing that annoying fluorescent light buzz of Christmas, but we wanted no part. We were just happy to sit back and give thanks. As we still do.
I'm thankful for you, old friend. I'm thankful for this first snowfall, making the deer easy to track. I'm thankful for how it slows everyone down a little bit, making everybody a little bit late. I'm thankful for the lonesome sound of harmonicas bouncing off the snow-covered sycamores and sugar maples.
I'm thankful for another trip around.
I'm looking forward to seeing you again, hopefully soon.
I remain, as ever,
Your kindergarten amigo
Freelance writer and filmmaker Joseph Johnston made his first movie at the age of 11, an industrial espionage thriller that continues to play to excited crowds in his parent’s living room every Christmas. His work has appeared in Rawboned, GTK Creative Journal, Old Northwest Review, and the Linden Avenue Literary Journal and his movie Fragments was the inaugural winner of the Iron Horse Literary Review's Video Literature contest. You can keep up with him at http://www.joe-johnston.com.