There is something about visiting a place in the world that you have read about in a story. Currently I’m sitting on a balcony at La Push overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Those of you who have read the infamous ‘twilight’ saga will know exactly where I am. Those of you that haven’t read them; well you should.
Before books are made into movies, You picture them in a certain way. You envisage each and every character; most likely based on people you know or have met, simply because of the way that the author describes them. It is only natural that you mirror characters in stories with those characters that are in your every day life. It is how you come to relate to them. Similarly, if you can’t relate a character to someone you know, you can mirror their experiences with your own, or some of your own, and therefore can imagine yourself as a character or at least relate to parts of what a character is going through.
A good author will be able to create new characters and new scenes, and create a world in which you can feel totally and utterly present within. So much so that when you go to visit the place in which the story is set, you feel like you have already been there. In a sense, driving through forks and then down to La push beach, I felt like I was going back to a place I already knew, and indeed, in a certain way it was like coming home.
Immediately I am placing the world I created within the authors world all around me. I’m imagining that the story actually occurred and that I am visiting the place as some kind of pilgrimage to somewhere with a definite real history created from the book.
Of course vampires and werewolves don’t exist. And the cynical members of my audience of readers may think it ridiculous that Sarah and I chose forks as a place to go to for a weekend. In fact there were several scoffs from people when we said we were going to come here. This I can only imagine is because of the pretentious Hollywood hype that surrounded the movies themselves.
And yet, apart from the odd burger bar that offers the ‘bella’ burger, and the shops that sell official movie merchandise; on the facade of it all, and unlike any other place I’ve visited in the USA that has a history or natural beauty; it is relatively untouched by the human need to hype it up or make it a gigantic theme park. There are no casinos or lit up streets with fake lighting. There are no swarms and swarms of tourists, and basically just no obvious tackiness.
This peninsula is one of the most stunning places I have ever been. It probably helps that today has been a beautifully sunny day. But regardless, even in the pouring down rain, this place would still be beautiful. The drive from Seattle to here took around three hours. Although we did miss our turning to La push and wondered some 30 miles south of our destination. The roads become single track halfway along the journey, and these roads meander their way along lake shores and on the other side teeter along the edge of massive expanses of rain forests and in the distance are high snow capped mountains and eventually the glimmer of the Pacific Ocean.
One of the reasons I believe we can come to terms with ‘different’ is because of literature. A poem, a song, a story, a book that are set in another location allows us (upon reading them) to feel like we are not just a visitor in that place. But an inhabitant.
With my upcoming trip to Borneo, I am therefore inclined to start really reading about the place and its history in order to better acclimatise myself to the foreign location that it is inevitably going to be.