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6:30 PM - Mon 4.03.23

Berkeley Springs (Pt 1)

Coming to you from the Courtyard Marriot near Dulles airport (We head back to LA tomorrow)...

Well, the Berkeley Springs Film Festival has come and gone.

And I have to say, it was a pretty great time.

Being a relatively small, relatively new film festival - this is their fourth year - coming here was not as much about the film as it was a nice way for me to get together with family (Though I did manage to see a couple films before all was said and done).

And Jane referred to it, more than once, as basically being "a nice vacation" (Though she did win a Directing award on Saturday night. And her former next-door neighbors from Okemos, whom she loves to pieces, came to see the film, and she got to spend time with them, so I'd say this was a pretty meaningful weekend for her as well).

We flew to Dulles on Thursday, then stayed overnight - at this very hotel - leaving for Berkeley Springs the next day (The big challenge? Getting a LYFT to take us from Dulles to The Country Inn in Berkeley Springs - We finally got a ride on our sixth or seventh attempt. Then I left the charging case for my earbuds in the car, which I just got back earlier today).

We hadn't made a lot of plans for how this family gathering was going to come off on Saturday - "planning" isn't one of my strong suits, and turns out that may be a genetic trait - but ultimately, things worked out pretty well.

I think my niece Ashley may have done more planning than I realized - the screening was at 12:15, and she got there with her crew early enough to treat us to breakfast in the hotel restaurant (Where we ended up eating for the duration of our time in Berkeley Springs because it was easy and good).

I'd thought Ashley might come with just her son, Tucker. But to my delight, there was also her partner (Jesse), her Mom (Billie Jean), along with surprise guest star, her brother Chas, who I've talked to on the phone, but never met.

When it got closer to showtime, my niece Brittany arrived with her stepdaughter, Chloe, and my Sister-In-Law, Lori, came with her oldest son, Trevor.

(MIA? My brother Tony, who I understood was running late because he was stuck on the highway. But he never showed, has said nothing about it after the fact, and opted not to go to Brittany's place yesterday to hang out with me. feels like something is up there. I don't know what, exactly, but...something. And that's all I'll say about that.)

There was still a film screening when we got there, so for a time, we just hung out, either in the lobby of the theater or just outside, under the marquee.

Then it was time for the show.

I thought I'd kinda "gotten over" being embarrassed about certain parts of the film (hitting myself, a bathroom scene where I'm shaving with my shirt off, getting pushed up on a horse when I couldn't pull myself onto the saddle, seeing my cruddy apartment, etc).

But it's a little different, having strangers see it (Or people who already know my deal see it) versus having my new-found "family" seeing it.

(That said, it wasn't horrifying, "I want to die" embarrassment - There was just a lot more wincing than usual.)

And while I'm often moved by the end of the film, watching myself talk about "family" with my family...?

That was...something else.

Did a short Q&A with Jane afterward, then there were a lot of pictures.

(A lot of pictures.)

I was going to hang out at Brittany's place the next day, so I focused my goodbyes on Ashley and her crew, and Lori and Trevor, and the family headed back to their homes, while I gathered together with Jane for a debriefing about what had just happened.

...and I think I need to end it there, 1) Because I'm tired and want to just watch some TV, and, 2) I've got to ask Jane some questions about what happened next, because I'm a little confused on some things.

Anyway, till next time...



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