March 23, 2006

Things to Do in Durham When You're Dead

I'm packing up and moving to New York this weekend, so over the next week or so I'll be posting some quick thoughts on North Carolina (where I was born, and where I've spent most of my life).

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead was a Pulp Fiction-era crime yarn (released in 1995) starring Andy Garcia. In it, he plays a marked man who spends most of the film tying up the loose ends in his life, in preparation for an impending, inescapable mob hit. It's been a few years since I've seen it, and frankly I don't trust my opinion of any film I saw more than a couple of years ago, but I remember there being a palatable emotional resonance underneath its typical-of-the-times "gangster cool" exterior. Unlike most latter-day crime films, TTDIDWYD wasn't merely about the logistics of law-breaking, or about the circumstances of Garcia's death--it was about him putting things in order and making amends before his time was up. Trying to set things straight before leaving any place is a natural priority for most people, and if you're deprived of this opportunity, things are left in a messy state of incompleteness.

I'm getting out of dodge. And while I'm merely leaving Durham--whereas Garcia's character was not only leaving Denver, but also this earth--there's a similar putting-things-in-order and tying-up-of-loose-ends that I've been trying to accomplish before I go. I'm not a criminal, though, and I haven't been tearing through girlfriends like so many ligaments in my shoulder, so I really don't have the number of damaged personal relationships to repair that a womanizing criminal would.

I kind of wish I did, though. Is that wrong?

Even though I'm still physically here in Durham, my mind has been elsewhere for months. Like Andy Garcia in Denver, I'm as good as gone.

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