Back Where I Started

The decision to start shooting film consistently again grew from a desire to get back in touch with myself. I thought the best place to start would be the town I grew up in, and the Spring Equinox seemed like a fitting time for some serious rebirth.

I headed out early to catch the sunrise from the reconstructed calendar they are nowadays calling “woodhenge”. When I was a child, the quarry next door actually overlapped the site, their fence cutting a chord straight through the circle of giant timbers. Sometime in the years since since, they decided to donate that strip of land and now the reconstruction is whole again. Many of the mounds of the area were discovered after the highways were already laid out and cities built on top, and a large number of them are likely still undiscovered.

Cahokia Mounds was just a short walk from my house. I have a lot of memories from that place, going there with the family, with friends, and during events. It has been a slowly unfolding mystery, trying to piece together what caused the once largest city in North America to collapse.

Deteriorating not too far from there is the village where I lived most of my childhood. It was a trip going back and realizing how small it is, how close together everything is. The road is still a gravel obstacle course, and many of the houses I remember are still there but long abandoned.

I think a lot of my ambition came from living in this place. I was terrified by the idea that I might never rise above that environment. It felt like a necessary escape to get as far away as possible from that place—physically, socially and mentally. It was (and appears to still be) a place of depression.

To be fair, there were quite a many good people there, perfectly happy about the opportunity low-income areas provide. But it was also a place full of poverty, of crime, of mental illness, drugs and drunks.

Subheading 3

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Vincent James Le Pes III