Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Earlier, I had a post of my son's short film for college called "Reverberations." If you're in for a story of serendipity and fate, this is one to give you Halloween chills.

So, he decides since he's focusing on film in his art major, he'll go out in the desert, rub dirt on himself and wander around. He says when he sees the spot, he'll know the story. We're driving around and I go past the Indian Reservation, but I'm hesitant to stop. They aren't usually kind to people wandering in their desert, but Phoenix is hardly a desert anymore, so I turn the car and say, "Alex, we'll stop when we see it." I had this urgent feeling to head towards a town out in the desert that has a name but basically no buildings. I know it's not reservation, so I figure we won't get arrested. So, we're cruising down the middle of nowhere and we pass by a deserted trailer. It looks like hell. The siding is falling off, insulation flapping in the wind. We circle around and go back.

My son is excited, but we shouldn't be wandering onto someone's property. Luckily, there's a realty sign nearby, so we figure if we have to, we'll tell them we're just looking at the property. Well, we case the joint and find out is a circle of abandoned trailers with no electricity, no water, all the trailers crumbling. There's possessions strewn all over the desert floor, so thick in places you have walk around the piles. We peer into the largest trailer and it's blocked by so much stuff inside the door won't open. None of it makes sense, but we shrug and realize this is the perfect place to film. We rub wet dirt on him and he takes off his shoes and we proceed to film this short of a guy in a battle zone with a kid's shoe in his hand, wandering aimlessly near a creaking swing set.

Well, we get done, wash up, and leave the site. He makes the awesome short and everyone loves it. End of story? No. My son, who is highly intuitive like me, is drawn back to the site. He can't stop thinking about it. He talks his friend into going and they set out on an adventure. They spend a Saturday picking through the place and going into the trailers just to see what they're like. They don't seem like anyone lived in them, just stored stuff from floor to ceiling. They find some interesting things and pick up a few books. His friend finds a journal. My son eagerly flips through it. A teenaged girl's handwriting and scribbles and tragic poems and sad high school life.

He clutches the book and takes it home with him. Something inside of him drives him to want to know who owned it. I tell him it's ridiculous to think he can find the owner. We look up the land site and find the owner, but he doesn't live there. He just bought it and left it since 2001. Not a lot of clues. I flip through the pages with him late into the night and use a flashlight and magnifying glass to pull up the address on the inside cover. It's an address 40 miles away from the site. But, we figure why not look it up. We google the map of the address and then we're stumped. I flip through the book and ask about this guy the girl mentions as her best friend. His name is not uncommon but not really common either. We look in MySpace. From the age of the journal in 1992, we figure she's probably in her early to mid 30s. We find a guy with the name and the age who went to the high school in Arizona near the address. He now lives in California.

My son says he can't stop. He's possessed by it. He knows the journal was a sign of an urban archaeology art project or show he'd like to do, but he doesn't know where he's going with it yet. He said that the original film "Reverberations" seems to be becoming literal. He takes a chance and emails the guy.

The next morning, he gets an email back. The guy is floored. Yes, he knew a girl by that name in high school in that town in which the book had the address. They went to that school during those years.

Okay, so now he's worked up. There is something going on here. He felt an artistic connection with this thing that was forgotten in the desert, never to be found, in a site that seemed dead, but it connects him with tendrils to life. He needs to know about that life.

He's in school that evening and he gets a message on his cell phone. He ignores it until a break and then he goes outside to hear the woman's voice saying "yes, this is me. I live in Washington now and I'm a writer." He kind of knew she would be. Her writings were angst-ridden but well thought out. It ends up she is writing her memoirs for a book and she had journals of her life except her teen years. She had no idea where that journal went. She was stuck in this spot right now when she got this call and it changed her life. She said she wanted to write about the journey of her journal and she wanted to help him in a possible documentary piece about how they found each other and how from something neglected they found purpose. She plans to come out in December and have him take her to the abandoned trailer site. She's never been to that town, never heard of it. She has no idea how it got there. He'd like to see if any of her other stuff might be there, but the next mission for him is to find out how the journal got there.

Anyways, I think on a holiday season like Halloween, this story gives me shivers in crazy ways. Every day we have a new Aha! and a new connection. It reminds me of one those crazy stories you hear of on Oprah and never think happen in real life.

The lesson here is they happen in real life if you take things just a step further. Alex could have stopped with finding the journal and tossed it back. He could have taken it home and stored it and forgot it. He could have taken it home and shared it with friends and laughed. He wouldn't rest until this woman had that piece of her life (the embarrassing and depressing phase of adolescence) back in her hands to realize at 32 just how far she'd progressed. He wanted to be part of the life and the emotion that exudes from the finding of the journal by its owner, put a face on it, bring its purpose back instead of letting it leave neglected in the desert. I think his pursuit of urban archaeology is an amazing bend in his art and I hope he continues it. I'm quite sure he will. He has always said he wanted to do art with a social impact.

I think we can say he definitely has.

p.s. when he has his finished work, whatever form it takes, I'll share it with ya'all. I suspect that won't be until wintertime when he's interviewed her and documented their journey.


  1. that is so amazing!
    i like to think those are miracles, they happen all the time, but sometimes we are able to become aware of them.

  2. Yes, amazing!@ You always hav eth emost interesting topics on your blog, Autumn.

  3. Sandra;
    I think we're really the vessels of miracles. It's our actions and our attitudes that bring them about. Sort of the law of intention.

    Hibiscus Moon;
    I'm glad you enjoy it. Even I don't know what's going to come next. I just let my whimsies lead the way.

  4. Wow...weird, creepy, and a few other words I can't remember right now. Makes one wonder about destiny and all that.

  5. Naveed;
    I have to admit, it runs in the family to make strange connections between things. I'm dying to see where this goes.

  6. OMG!!! I have chills. I'm so happy for your son and for the woman...I can't wait to see what comes of this, either.

  7. Wow !! I cried at the ending Autumnforest-I know doesnt take me much and I am a guy but there it is! I can't wait to see Alex's work-this "Reverberations" story almost reminded me of the man with my ma's car keys on sept 11th-although Alex -with help from you-had to go through much more intuitive steps and work to find this woman-Incredible story-I wonder if the woman would be willing to share her name when she has written her book?-or other books if she already has-no big deal if she doesnt -many people are wary of sharing their real identities with folks online-I think in the eys of my parents I have gone too far sharing intimate details about myself online-maybe intimate is the wrong word-personal? but you know what? all I have ever gotten is help online from blogfriends like you and others-nothing bad has happened! when my "blogsister" who lives in New Zealand requested my real street addy -I had no prob giving it to her and she has sent my wonderful books-and a friend questioned my judgment -I told him that if there was another persona hiding behind her writing -then I dont have any business blogging or writing either! we are like brother and sister today-and I always wanted a sister growing up. Alex and you are great people Autumnforest-and I wish your family nothing but the best that life has to offer!! your friend in "hottin up" Arizona always!!

  8. Hey Dev;
    I'm sure this will evolve into something really intriguing. Her writings had the both of us wondering what happened to her and I really hoped she was a writer, and she is! I'm hoping that if he does a documentary format of this, it can go hand-in-hand with the publicity for her book about the journey of her journal. Serendipity has always been a part of his life, but I see that the serendipity really is him just having a lot of drive and a really good intuitive instinct. We both knew there was something about this woman. We felt an urgency but couldn't understand why. After all, the book has been missing for 16 years! That's why I tell people to really notice when things like this happen to them, what you feel in your gut. That feeling--when you get it again in the future--let it make your decision because that's your early warning system. I'm so glad you can find people to trust online. There's some of out there who are very gentle-hearted and that gut feeling--that's a real good indicator. There's usually little niggling inconsistencies in people who aren't up front. Plus, a real genuine person wouldn't mind giving you their name and address. You mail them something and when they get it, they tell you what it said. Then, you know they actually were at that address and read it. It's a silly trick, but a good one to use.