It took travelling to another country where English wasn’t the Mother tongue to open the doors of communication with my teenagers. These are teenagers who seem to physically shudder at the thought of spending time with me, who walk ten steps behind me through the shopping mall, groan every time I ask a simple question, such as ‘do you have homework?’ or ‘are you going to be home for dinner?. Travelling with my teenagers was an opportunity to get to know these growing young people more intimately and discover how much my ‘babies’ had grown before they take their own path into that grand experience called life.
The idea of travelling with teenagers was wrought with emotion, anxiety and excitement. Would I be the referee between arguments between my two children, or between the children’s father and the rugrats? Would I have sulking teenagers who would refuse to talk to strangers or engage with others, or constantly complain of being bored? Would my teenagers be on social media bemoaning how many days they had left to be tortured on a daily basis by their forever annoying parents. We had traveled to Phuket, Thailand, with our two teenagers, eighteen and fifteen years of age.
A year ago I wrote a blog post called, ‘The Crime of the Boston marathon’. The focus was not on those maimed or killed, but on the two bombers and the lack of belonging and the disengagement many feel in mainstream society. It was a story where I wasn’t sanctioning what the bombers allegedly did, but just encouraging discussion on the bigger picture of humanity and empathy.
But today’s piece of writing was sparked by the above photo. The photo of Celeste Corcoran who lost her lower legs in last year’s Boston Marathon bombing. She and daughter Sydney, right, were back at the race with Celeste’s sister Carmen Acabbo. This photo too is about humanity, but it is also about inner strength , courage and the resilience within Celeste, her family and all of the competitors who came back to the Boston Marathon this year, particular those who ran the year before and of course those who like Celeste had been maimed. This image represents what ‘resilience’ means to many. Imagine the fear as these runners crossed the start line, let alone as they neared the finish line. But they did it! How is it that some people fall apart from the smallest incident, and others rise above great hardships or incidents becoming even stronger?
A recent UK study from the London School of Economics claimed that a number of sporting and leisure activities can bring people as much happiness as a pay rise. They said that the most rewarding way to spend your spare time was having a boogie – which they said brought as much happiness as having a £1,671 pay rise. This is something I can totally relate to. After a couple of drinks (or at home sober) I’m the first on the dance floor or begging a prospective dance partner to join me. Also I’m one of those drivers that sing the great anthems while driving; my head is bobbing/thrashing and the fingers clicking.
Why I write? This is a good question and I’m not even sure I can answer it.
I’ve always had this burn to write. I wrote and directed plays forcing my younger sister and neighbour to perform in front of our parents as a young child and I scribbled poems into my Dad’s old work diary.
Now as an adult I’ve written on and off in a journal for years. I write poetry to share out loud with a group of friends as a poetry performance group. Plus I’m in the middle of writing my second draft of a young adult novel.
So why do I write these words and live parts of my day in somebody else’s head? Apart from my performance poetry and now this blog, plus twitter, nobody sees the words that I’m seeing in my head and on the page. So why am I doing it?
There are not many films that encourage me to write, but as I was watching Blue is the Warmest Color I craved to pick up my pen and start writing, not because the film was so bad that I wanted to rewrite it, but because the film, the dialogue (subtitles), the characterization and the story line was so good. So strong. There were moments where I had aha moments. When I observed how the film used literature and culture to define the two main characters. I also had the odd moment when, I thought to myself, damn I’d wish I’d written that.
This film spans a decade and is predominantly a coming-of-age story for the main protagonist, Adele. Just after starting up a relationship with a boy from her school Adele has a chance encounter with a slightly older woman, which leads Adele to think that something is missing in her relationship with the boy. Adele who is still at high school and the other woman, Emma is a young student completing her final year with a Fine Arts degree. Emma, being the elder of the two takes on the younger Adele as her protégé, not just sexually but to support her in her growth in becoming a young adult and person.
You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.
Dear God, I am fourteen years old. I have always been a good girl.
These two sentences are the first two sentences from Alice Walker’s novel, ‘The Color People’. A diary form novel set in the harsh segregated world of the Deep South around the 1930s. The protagonist, Celie, is raped by the man she calls father.
I could write this blog piece about the ongoing abuse against others, particularly on girls and children. I could write about rape culture and the way to change the thinking of both sexes, i.e. telling women to dress less provocatively and not flirt, which contributes to the blaming of victims, rather than the perpetrators. Instead I’m picking up on something more subtle but widespread and something I’ve been guilty of, the inability to say ‘no’ and doing something that makes me uncomfortable or unhappy. Society has encouraged many of us to be ‘good’ and to tend to others’ needs before our own. Many of us have done something we didn’t want to do, maybe because we wanted to feel liked or loved, a belonging, or to gain someone’s approval. Alongside this behaviour is the need to say ‘sorry’ every two seconds, even when it’s not your fault, and often the perpetrators…