In my opinion, and it’s a biased opinion, the movie, The Salton Sea, is one of those lost movie gems that wasn’t even appreciated in its era, but has the potential to find a new audience almost twenty years later due to revisionist history. Many critics tried to compare the films drug use to Requiem For A Dream and felt that the director borrowed visual feelings from movies like, Heat, Pulp Fiction, and Fight Club. However, I feel like these comparisons are unfair, and based on my Emotional IQ, The Salton Sea’s had more of a profound effect on my life than most of the films that I’ve ever seen.
There was a scene in the documentary, Dogtown and Z-Boys, where Thrasher Magazine Editor, Jake Phelps explains that when he saw the life of the Z-Boys in the skateboarding magazines for the very first time, he said to himself, “I want that.” And that’s what he ended up chasing as he followed his heart into the lifestyle and camaraderie that the Z-Boys were showing him. To him, it felt like a family, and he wanted in. And as crazy as it sounds, for me, when I saw the movie, The Salton Sea, and felt the camaraderie of this crew of drug addicts until the sun came up, I said to myself “I want that.” And just like Jake Phelps, my chase had begun.
It took me about nine years after seeing The Salton Sea, to find a group of people that I wanted to go down this ill-conceived journey with me. We all hung out or worked at the same restaurant/bar, and after a slow courting period, eventually jumped in head first when it came to all night parties until the sun came up. It was the first time in my life that I started thinking about who I was, and it was like I had a new home and a new family to share it with. Laughter ensued. Deep bonds were created. And the thrill of the next hangout was always on my mind. It was just as I envisioned how it would feel and it provided me with some of the greatest thrills of my life……..until it didn’t anymore.
I vividly remember walking in front of Bateman’s Bikes with one of my best friend’s in the crew at the time (not anymore) and saying “you know this all won’t end well.” He asked what I meant, and I replied: “this just isn’t unsustainable.” He didn’t prod further even though I knew he had more questions to ask. I didn’t want to ruin the mood, so I just changed the subject and we went on our merry way.
In my mind, it wasn’t just drug addiction that could start destroying everything, but for me, it was leading a double life and how difficult that would be to maintain. At a certain point, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep up appearances anymore and that eventually, my old life would come knocking and ask where I’d been. Separating them at first was easy, but the competition for my TV time would only increase.
I was life imitating art, which was probably imitating life. I was a drug abuser, living a double life, to help cope with my inner-loss and abandonment issues, whereas in the movie, Val Kilmer’s character was grieving the loss of his murdered wife. Like in the film, people from our old world’s checked in on us because they were worried about our well being and knew something was wrong. At first, I found these intrusions annoying, but once I realized they were only concerned about my well being, I began to lighten up. It helped me see how this old group of people truly loved and cared for me. The real me, not just the old version, but the haggard, drug-addicted one too.
And that’s how and why The Salton Sea became a significant part of my life….. for worse, and then for the better. It navigated me down a terrible/fun road, and in the process, helped me assess what caused my inner pain, and then propelled me on the journey to self-discovery.
Sometimes you need to have your life completely torn down before you can build it back up again. God bless Val Kilmer and The Salton Sea.
If you or a loved one you know battles with Codependency, or Mental Health Issues, please do get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone now, you can talk to one of the many fantastic therapists at Better Help by CLICKING HERE.
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.
Photo Credit: Castle Rock/Warner Bros.