I just spent a good portion of the afternoon watching the movie Cold Mountain, based on the book of the same name, by Charles Frazier. I guess it's not surprising that a movie, based on an area of my home country that I dearly love, could affect me so much, considering it stars an Australian, and Englishman, and in the starring role of Cold Mountain, a mountain range somewhere in eastern Europe.
I read the book five or six years ago, and at the time I had only been making the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains my home for a couple of years, having followed my parents there. I was falling in love with the mountains, with the people, and I loved the book as well. That winter, my father was invited to attend a grand opening of a Boy Scout camp in the mountains south of Asheville, and my mother and I came along. It was the end of January and bitterly cold; I remember the temperature readout in the car said it was in the teens (farenheight) by the time we got to our destination. A ranger offered to take us on a small hike to look at more of the campgrounds, so we piled into a van and rode part of the way up.
After walking for a while, we reached a clearing and could see other mountains in the area. He pointed out one or two, and pointed to the next, "And that's Cold Mountain." The book was still fresh in my mind, but I confess I didn't realize Cold Mountain was an actual place. From far off, it looked blue. It certainly looked like it had earned its name.
By this time, my parents had moved to Asheville, and the mountains became my escape. Half the reason I went to see them was to drive through the gorgeous scenery, my windows down (when appropriate) to breathe in that sweet air. My father always liked to take the car and just drive, to see what there was to see. I loved those rides. I miss them.
So, the movie. I won't bore you with a review, especially since by now the internet must be crawling with them. I wasn't overly moved by the scenery, because I knew in the back of my mind that they weren't my mountains, though they were pretty enough. Nicole Kidman was just ok and Renee Zellweger was wonderful. I also thought Jude Law made an excellent Inman.
But what was it that got to me so? Perhaps it was the idea of a thing, rather than the thing itself. When Inman cried (and I'm paraphrasing here), "How can I miss something that is only a name?" I cried along with him, knowing exactly what he meant. By the time the end credits rolled, I was filled to the brim with my own memories. I was preparing to take the movie back to the video store, and when I heard Alison Krause sing "I'm gone to find my true love," it all came crashing down. It occurred to me that I had found my true love, so far away from that place I love so much, and all the emotion came tumbling out at once, and a feeling of homesickness swept over me so fiercely I cried out. And then, like the movie, I put it away, and walked through this new town I'm growing to love, and continued on down this path I'm creating with my own true love.