|image courtesy of sunriseseeds.com|
"She liked you, boy."
The intensity of his eyes made me blink.
"Yes," I said.
"She did it for you, you know."
"Gave up her self, for a while there. She loved you that much. What an incredibly lucky kid you were."
I could not look at him. "I know."
He shook his head with wistful sadness. "No, you don't. You can't know yet. Maybe someday...."
Have you read "Stargirl" yet? I just finished it today on the train and I am still buzzing from its message. Written for young adults, this book is a true Bildingsroman - which is really just a stuffy, pedantic (read: anal-retentive) way of saying it's a coming-of-age teen novel... only minus vampires. It's about a young boy, Leo Borlock, who meets the mysterious, quirky and eccentric Stargirl - a girl in Mica Highschool who literally dances to the beat of her own ukelele which she strums in the lunchroom wearing long flowy skirts, sunflowers and her pet rat (endearingly named Cinnamon) on her shoulder.
Stargirl is a true individual in a time in life when all we want to do is fit in and become part of the massive glob of teenage hormones. Leo and Stargirl fall in love but her individuality proves a problem for their relationship. Leo desperately wants to fit in and disappear while Stargirl's nature is to be herself and in a pool of homogenity this naturally leads to her garnering much - albeit negative - attention. Leo asks Stargirl to try and "be normal" for a while which she does for him because she loves him. She changes her name back to Susan, wears jeans, high heels, make-up and lipstick to class. She smacks her gum like the other girls, stops singing in the lunchroom and becomes obsessed with clothes. Her attempts at "normalcy" don't last long though and soon Stargirl goes back to her home-made dresses, curly hair and daily birthday song serenades to strangers.
I guess if you boiled the book down to its heart, it would be 1. always be yourself, even if it disrupts the status quo and makes you a loner, 2. never change your core self for another even if it's out of love and 3. pay attention to people's birthdays. Actually, just pay attention to people.
I think at one point or another we have all changed ourselves for love. Contorted our bodies (maybe literally through dieting or extreme exercise) into various odd shapes to fit our notion of what that "someone else" wants us to look like, act like, dress like - be like. We have lost ourselves either to a particular person or to a particular mass of people we deem more powerful and important than we are. On a very obvious and physical level, we see it today with the diet industry. For some reason someone has decided that long, silky, straight hair and a 12-year-old boy body with massive implants is what every woman should look like. On a more subtle level we see young women giving themselves away - completely - to men, to guys, to their boyfriends. There is a crazy notion that I think a lot of women believe which is that once a guy loves them only then will they begin to truly exist or matter or feel worthy. I am guilty of this too. I am also guilty of the trap the diet industry has set up about what the "ideal girl" should look like - so today, I take a small stand and wear my hair wild and curly.
"And... I see. I hear. But not with eyes and ears. I'm not outside my world anymore, and I'm not really inside it either. The thing is, there's no difference anymore between me and the universe. The boundary is gone. I am it and it is me. I am a stone, a cactus thorn. I am rain." She smiled dreamily. "I like that most of all, being rain." - (p.92) Jerry Spinelli, "Stargirl"
I've also included the trailer for the newest Pixar movie "Brave" due out Summer 2012. I love Pixar almost as much as Harry Potter so you can imagine how excited I am. I included this trailer because the girl in this movie reminds me of Stargirl and gives me hope for the girls of the future.