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turners falls:  the enchanting beside the sickening. the peaceful beside the nasty. the naturally beautiful beside the personally toxic.

such has been, and still is,  my experience in this western massachusetts town on the connecticut river. so it has been for twenty-five years thus far. others have had different experiences here. lucky them. but there have been some I’ve known over the years who have felt the same way I do about the people in this place and the treatment received from them. those folks have been able to get out, and wanted to get out. for years I wanted the same thing. now it’s all changed. now I can’t leave.

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                      give me beauty in the inward soul; may the outward
                      and the inward man be at one.
                                  ~~~~  socrates
 

well you can’t get what Socrates asked for in toto. as people we are all possessed of anger, of envy, of the temptation to lie or to stick it to someone else, and other unpretty emotions and urges. the hope is that people will be on the lookout for these things and mitigate them by means of their moral code and by means of their conscience. at least, that’s always been my hope.

there is a dark, low-class seediness about most of the people in this town (even in the ones who are not poor) that I have never found in such ugly abundance anyplace else I’ve ever lived. and as I’ve said, other incomers over the years have agreed with me about this, and those who agreed with me got out, never to return. you will no doubt scowl and call me a variety of names and point out how sick and twisted I am to blithely condemn an entire town. scowl and berate away: I cannot care about your denial that such diseased towns can and do exist, nor can I care about your new-age, politically correct “everybody is good” vacuity. everybody is not good. everybody is not redeemable. everybody is not just insecure, or without manners instruction from their parents, or any other excuse repertoire that the politically correct can devise. there are, in actual fact, people who are nasty because they enjoy it, because they know they can get away with it (particularly in turners), because they know that the culture they live in (turners) will not hold them accountable.

I grew up in a small town, a bit smaller than turners in those days, but not now (the influx of yuppies that is now happening in turners and greenfield happened out east about fifteen years ago).  and in that town we had our few loonies, our few intractable drunks, our few child and wife-beaters, our certain teenagers destined for a life of crime. we had shocking divorces after many years of marriage among the town’s upper middle class. we had families whose money was so old that its original owners had come over on the stinking mayflower, I kid you not.  and we had some people so poor it made me cry, even as a child. we had what you have in any new england small town: a microcosm of the culture and problems of new england as a whole. but what we also had, which is almost totally lacking in turners falls, was a certain civil level of decency, and of compassion, and of kindness. there were certain limits beyond which most citizens would not go against another citizen, even if they couldn’t stomach each other. there were kindnesses offered during illness or injury or death that were part of this civility, even among people who couldn’t stand each other. There are no such limits and no such practice of compassion in this place that reminds me of nothing more than it reminds me of a cesspool.

for all the years between 1999 and 2008, I had a terror of dying here, of never being able to get myself and my animals out for good. hell, I didn’t even want anymore of my animals to die here, or to be buried here, or anywhere near here. I was desolate at the thought of ending my life in this horrible place, whether that end was brought about by my own action, or by one of my various physical illnesses. I wanted to go home, or at least far enough from turners that I couldn’t smell its psychological stink anymore. now I know that I will in fact most likely die here, or in the town beside us. I will die among people I mostly despise, who mostly despise me (those who didn’t dislike me before now have jumped on the bandwagon, largely due to this website and all the gossip about it that circulates in the screamingly efficient, salivating TF grapevine).

the juxtapositions that have always haunted me in this town, have scratched at my mind like something very wrong that needed to be put right, haunt me more forcefully still since 2008. the unresting, restless contrast between the beauty of the nature here, and the landscape, and the buildings, set against the great psychic ugliness of the people. in 2008 I was illegally (not to mention immorally) evicted from my apartment. I couldn’t afford an attorney to help me fight this illegal eviction, but I did have a huge social service agency (the mass department of mental health) that was supposed to help me, which instead completely betrayed me. and so at the age of fifty-five I was thrown into the street, quite literally, my belongings packed into a storage unit that I pay a ridiculous fee for, and my animals taken from me (after the signing of a piece of paper that itself was not legal), hidden in various places (I was not allowed to visit them), and eventually killed. I only know death facts for three of those fourteen animals. just yesterday I heard a man on the radio whose middle-east dissident father disappeared twenty-one years ago say that when someone you love just disappears, and you don’t know where or when or how they died, the grief is different than regular grief, and the pain is different than regular pain. yuppies would say that people like this radio man, people like me, do not have closure. whatever. but there are a certain few people in this town who know very well where my other eleven animals were taken, and how long they were allowed to live, and where and when they died. and in their very typically ugly, mean-spirited, ignorant fashion, these people deny me this information for three years now, and counting.

why can’t I go? why don’t I go? why don’t I get clear of these trolls who visited on me and mine one ugly act after another over nearly twenty-two years, until in the end they destroyed us? it might be because I’m a person with PTSD, have had it for years. and on two days in March of 2008, the very worst trauma of all the traumas that came before it was dumped on me by this town, and by a lazy and incompetent pack of social workers. this event was a crime in both the legal sense and in the moral one, and I now can’t leave the crime scene. I can’t remove myself from faces and bodies and sick personalities that make me cry, or cringe, or shake, or get nauseated as I walk down any street. I can’t leave the poison because the snowflake trees of my turners years were here too, and those I can’t turn my back on, not now that the animals have been stolen and killed. those snowflake trees were an actual plant, and they were, by metaphorical extension, all the moments with all my animals over all the years since 1985. the dull, everyday moments; the funny ones; the sorrowful ones when an animal died; the moments spent out beside the water with cats or dogs, or wandering a woods. the irritating ones when a certain animal is driving you bonkers. the moments I sang to them, or cried to them, or went frantically hunting for someone gone missing. many, many animals over the turners falls years, up to and including the fourteen who were stolen from me in 2008. I can’t leave the scene of the crime, which is also the scene of loves and of a way of life that I had for fifty-five years and was wrenched  from me here in this place.

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(gecko at www.whatonearthcatalog.com; glass at www.toscano.com)

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 read…  Lifelines…  Don’t ask

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2011-2013 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.

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