8:52 AM - Thurs 1.23.20
Well, got home from the big West Virginia trip late Tuesday night...and realized Wednesday morning that I should have taken Wednesday off - A day to decompress and think about what had just happened would have been nice.
This was a trip that was a long time in the offing.
It went from me thinking, early on, that a trip to West Virginia would just be me walking around my hometown saying "I don't recognize anything", to being a supreme logistical challenge for Jane (Who was having to act as Producer, Director, Location Coordinator, etc), to being a big question mark around what would happen when we got there (Leading to lots of conversations convincing ourselves "anything that happens will be good for the documentary"), to ending up a bigger success than either of us would have imagined going in.
At least a bigger success than I would have imagined, especially on a personal level.
I told Jane, more than once, that she didn't have to worry about me, in terms of the "emotional impact" the trip might have (As I would put it, "I can't imagine anything anyone says is going to wreck me - The worst thing that could happen for me, really, is that nothing happens").
But while I was suggesting that "nothing happening" wouldn't be that big a deal, I really was concerned over how'd I'd feel if the whole thing just didn't end up meaning much - General awkwardness and discomfort could work for the documentary, but it wouldn't have been a barrel of laughs for Yours Truly.
But things weren't "awkward and uncomfortable". On the contrary, just about everything we did was more easy and comfortable than I could have anticipated.
And not just "easy and comfortable", but more meaningful than I'd bargained for - In spite of not having seen Gregg and Tony since our first meeting years ago, and meeting nieces Ashley and Brittany for the very first time, I was "family" with everyone I met. They felt it, and I felt it.
I worried, going in, that nobody would feel anything, and I'd then feel like more of an "alien" than ever.
But that didn't happen.
As Ashley softly said on camera, when noting my resemblence to her father (My late brother Chuck), "It's nice" (Which might not sound like much, until you consider she just lost her father in July and is still grieving the loss. And she was saying that to a man who's spent his entire life not looking like anyone).
Ashley and Brittany were the biggest "question marks" in my mind - Would I like them? Would they like me? - because they were relative strangers (I'm friends with them on Facebook, but Brittany doesn't post that much, and Ashley barely posts at all. And, in any case, Facebook is not exactly real life).
But they both turned out to be smart and funny - genetic traits? - and we immediately liked each other.
That would have been "worth the price of admission" all by itself, but my time with Gregg and Tony was also pretty great (In each situation, I found myself not wanting to leave at the end).
After we visited/interviewed all "My People", we spent Monday getting "B-roll", which I thought would be pretty boring (Lots of pictures houses and trees and whatnot).
But even that ended up being kind of cool - In addition to visiting the hospital where I was born (Now a retirement community), and the spot where I lived with Lydia DeHaven (aka "My REAL Mom"), which is now a fire station, we happened across my old grade school, which I got a big kick out of, and maybe even the "special school" I attended before that (Though there's some question in my mind on that last one - Jane's working on getting more pictures and info from the town's historical society, so we'll see if that sheds more light on anything).
Long story short, it was all quite wonderful.
And I didn't even touch on sharing the experience with Jane.
But speaking of Jane, she's in town through the weekend, and I'm having a lunch meeting with her and Cher C., our Publicist, so I have to get myself cleaned up.
Till next time...
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