After four weeks of competition—and some pretty amazing/head-shakingly bad sports puns—our PanLit Games are coming to a close with one final category: we’re taking it to the streets! No, we’re not talking dance (although that would have been amazing), we’re talking about cycling. Road cycling, popular since the late 1800s, is a test of stamina and strategy as teams work together to cross that finish line. Our PanLit Games contestants are all “spokes” people who have had the stamina and strength to write about important topics and themes. Let’s see who gets a breakaway. —All Lit Up
We’re here. We’ve done it, All Lit Up. I love you to the end. (Or was that the Pogues?)
Have you read A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard? If you have, you’ll understand why I’ve chosen it for this entry. If you haven’t, you’re probably sitting there thinking “Jaycee Dugard… Jaycee Dugard? Why do I know that name?” I’ll tell you why—she’s an absolutely incredible woman who’s strength and courage helped her to survive eighteen years held captive by a pair of sadistic nut jobs. You’ve read Room, right? That’s fiction. Jaycee Dugard’s story is real life. It’s her life.
At age eleven Jaycee was taken from the side of the road in Tahoe within view of her home. Her step-father watched as Phillip and Nancy Garrido drove past her, turned around, and grabbed her. But, having just ripped apart his car engine in the driveway, he had no way to chase them down. The next eighteen years of her life were filled with physical and emotional abuse and sexual assault. Her memoir is powerful—and poorly written. The quality of writing, however, in no way lessens the impact of her story. I think it strengthens it. In the introduction she explains that when she was a captive she would write to keep track of the days. Some of the journal entries are shared as images and the level of writing skill in her childhood journal is close to the level of writing she has an adult, which speaks to the fact that not only was she robbed of her freedom and her innocence, but her education as well. What is most surprising about the retelling of her personal Hell is that she does not sensationalize the Garridos as psychotic, or evil, or heinous (which is exactly what I would do). She tells the story as she remembers it; meaning once she realized there would be no escape she accepted her situation for what it was and persevered as best she could. At the time of publication of her memoir (2011), she and her two daughters—both sired by Phillip Garrido and held prisoner with Jaycee—had been free for two years and Jaycee refused to hate the Garridos. She didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of carrying around that much hatred for the rest of her life. As a culture we tend to sensationalize bad guys. In attempting to understand how they could be so hideous, we end up giving them exactly what they want and need: attention. Jaycee Dugard refuses to play into that. She just wants to live her life—safe, happy, and free.
Don’t be afraid. I won’t smite you. Probably.