Sep 22, 2006

green is for grace

I remember over a year ago now when I stood in my friend's little apartment in Portland and we watched a trailer for something called "Invisible Children." Back then I didn't know anyone other than the two of us who had any idea what it was. As the weeks and months progressed I met more people who'd heard about Invisible Children.

I remember 11 months ago when that same friend created an art piece that represented the Invisible Children. It was beautiful, it was inspiring. Then he told me he was putting on a huge showing of "Invisivble Chlidren" in Colorado where he was living at the time. And again, I was inspired and proud. It is beautiful to watch people we care about be passionate, especially when the passion is directed at something other than themselves.

I remember February 2nd 2006 when I saw "Invisible Children" for the first time. I sat on my friend's couch with 20 other people and sobbed silently for 30 minutes. My shoulders shook and tears and snot streamed down my cheeks. I vaguely remember being passed Kleenex on and off throughout the movie. I remember the movie ending and someone from the group giving a brief statement about the film and what the filmmakers are doing. We watched the extras section that talks about their ultimate goal of a safe place the children can live, work and learn. I remember sitting next to my good friends and being rendered completely speechless for half an hour, something I can honestly say that, since I began talking, has never happened.

I remember April 29th 2006 when I sat in a parking lot off Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz, CA writing letters to the President and the senators of California. I remember the frustration I felt, not being able to put into words my passion for the lives of these children. I felt hope and dissapointment all at the same time. I was hopeful that we would, combined with all the other people in all the other cities and states, write enough letters to not only bring this situation to the attention of our government, but would inspire them to do something. I was dissapointed because after only six years of voting exprience I have very little faith in our government anymore. And I remember fear. I was afraid that the government might actually do something about the violence to which we were attempting to open their eyes. My fear was that their response would be equally violent. These children and even the Lord's Resistance Army have seen enough violence. Their country has been in the middle of this war for over 20 years. Another war, another "peace-keeping mission" is not what this country needs. But I was afraid—am afraid—that if or when the United States decides to respond, the United Nations decides to respond, it will be with fatigues, combat boots, and fire power.

I remember finally getting my first bracelet in the mail and how excited I was to finally participate financially in this heart wrenching movement. I remember the knot in the pit of my stomach when I saw the DVD that came with the bracelet. Grace, a child mother, a sex slave at only 13, pregnant. I put on my bracelet and left the DVD on a set of drawers and promised myself I would watch her story soon.

I remember waking up this morning wondering what I would do before meeting a friend for lunch. I looked around the floor of my room, strewn with clean and dirty clothe nagging me to put them away. My eyes caught on a black box, the words "Invisible Children" wrapped around it over and over, reminding me of these children I had put on the back burner until it was convenient for me, until I was ready. I picked up the box and walked downstairs, and as I reheated my coffee I was scared. This beautiful young woman named Grace, a name that screams irony, was waiting to have her story told. And it was beautiful—is beautiful. Her story...her child...her name...the name of her newborn child...I cried. I cried and I cried and I prayed. I watched a montage of shots as "Amazing Grace" played in the background, and I couldn't understand how I was supposed to respond. The woman narrating the film quoted Anne Lamott, "I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us," and as the film progressed and as I have reflected on this brief description of a beautiful life that has become two beautiful lives I am astouded by the truth in that quote.

codeword trendy

I watch trailers to these movies. And they are hip. They are cool. They are “indie” which is this new code word for trendy. And if they are by default trendy because they are indie are they really indie? And these movies are supposed to capture my generation. They are suppose to speak to my generation…speak to me. I watch quirky male characters who would not be called handsome, cute, or good looking if they weren’t so indie. These male characters have crises and pick the wrong girl and then decide to pick the right girl. Or they don’t have a girl and want one. Or they have the girl and want the boy. And all the time there is Snow Patrol or Imogene Heap or some obscure indie soon to be trendy band singing about love and living life and lost love and wasted life in the back ground. And I love Imogene Heap, I love Snow Patrol, and Death Cab for that matter, and all the bands a hip mid-20s girl like me is supposed to love. But this life they describe is not mine. I do not go on cross country road trips spreading my deceased father’s ashes all the while listening to mixes made by a girl (boy) I met along the way. There is no one who is handsome because he is awkward and true struggling to confess his feelings as the flight attendant announces the imminent departure of his plane. And these stories are not about me because I am not the quirky, lost, boy next door type in faded Converse low-tops. But I have this mid-twenties post-college crisis. I live far from home struggling to make home where I am when nothing is familiar and I don’t even have a room of my own. Just borrowed space above a desk that isn’t mine, what do you think Virginia? Where is my room, where is my story? Somewhere in here, inside. And if I write is this all some attempt at being indie, being trendy, writing the untold story which is really the story of at least thousands of other mid-twenty, late-twenty, early-thirty women? And in telling it, in writing it I wonder if we all just saw the title and secretly hated Dave Eggars for stealing that title first. Because that is my story, my indie, code-word trendy, novel I am writing with characters so closely based on reality it is hardly fiction at all. Because what can I write but what I know? Who can I write but myself? The people I see everyday. This little attempt at creativity is merely my desire to be recognized, remembered, called significant by someone other than my mother.