The Glass Castle — Jeannette Walls: every person has a past that matters

“In the months that followed, I found myself always wanting to be somewhere other than where I was. If I was at work, I’d wish I were at home. If I was in the apartment, I couldn’t wait to get out of it. If a taxi I had hailed was stuck in traffic for over a minute, I got out and walked. I felt best when I was on the move, going someplace rather than being there….”

What keeps you alive? A person whom you love — perhaps a family you grow up in, a friend, or a spouse? A place to be — your home, or your hometown? A goal achieved — to graduate on time, to explore the world, or to settle down? What keeps you alive?

For me, I don’t know, because right now I don’t feel as alive as I would love to. Beside the facts than days are getting shorter, they also become dull. Nothing much more than checking things off the list. I want to be on the move. I want to keep moving, except that doesn’t help me as much as I expect it to be.

The Glass Castle doesn’t have anything to do with a physical gorgeous glass castle, nor with princes and princesses, nor with any kinds of luxury. Indeed, it was a continuous adventure of a family from the deserts to mountains and then to New York City. A family with a mom escaping responsibilities of raising a family and a dad who was an alcoholic.

Resilience: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. The Walls kids didn’t choose to be on an adventure. Not when the family had no money and the one reason to be on the move was to escape debts brought about by their drunk dad. The Walls kids didn’t choose to live up the mountain in West Virginia where layers of jackets couldn’t help in a house of no heater. Where there was no running water. Where there was a backyard filled with trash for there was not enough money to pay the fee of getting rid of garbage. Where there were eyes settling on wrong places on a girl’s body, and hands that made them fight. The Walls kids didn’t choose to live such lives. But they did, and they managed to get out of it.

Resilience perhaps is the glass castle that those kids built up over the years. I was most impressed and moved to tears when reading about how Jeannette saved up money for not only herself but her siblings to move to New York to have a different life. Yes, she worked hard for the money, but when she got robbed, by the dad who was too drunk to make money, it was resilience that made her keep going.

What keeps them alive? On the adventure, the glass castle that Jeannette dad had always promised gave them hope. But when disappointment filled in from time to time, what then?

Jeannette Walls’ husband believed that every interesting person has a past. I’d say every person has a past that matters. So much that they all have to be written down. Jeannette reminds me of how the past doesn’t define one, but it builds one up. The glass castle is the one that is inside each of the Walls kids, the story of homelessness, of starvation, of hopelessness, yet they all transformed into gorgeousness because the kids were loyal to each other, and despite however flawed the parents can be, there was still love that fueled.

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Thi Le

A Vietnamese. An international student in the States. Born a reader and a learner. A writer by will. Recharge in solitude. Aim to grow horizontally and vertically, but not physically. Welcome to my naked world. Hope my words inspire you in some ways, help you know me more and maybe yourselves, even.

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