So, I’m starting something new. I have a hard time coming up with things sometimes. Well, that’s not true. I have a hard time articulating things sometimes so I’m starting Monthly and weekly posts. This is one of the former, mostly cause I can’t think of someone who inspired me to become the snarky bitch I am today for every week of the year, but also because I may be a tad bit lazy. I’m also trying on punny titles. We’ll see how that one goes.
I’m starting with Anne Shirley.
You must know Anne (with an e), even if you never read her book or watched her movies she seeps into people’s consciousness. She’s the heroine of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The story of an orphan girl with red hair (much to her chagrin) who is accidentally sent, instead of a boy, to live with elderly siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on Prince Edward Island. That’s in Canada. By Nova Scotia. Sadly, I’ve still never been there. Anne can’t do the field work the Cuthberts need, but she soon worms her way into their hearts and they keep her anyway, despite the fact that she just can’t seem to help getting into trouble.
Also, the 1985 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television movie of the first book is near perfection. I remember watching it on PBS as a kid and then renting it continually from the library. The movie sequel, entitled Anne of Avonlea (after the second book but encompassing the next three and adds in a little something of it’s own), is also really good, but hardly as true to Montgomery’s books as the first. The films star Megan Follows as Anne, and she’s the one pictured above. She was perfect and she’ll always be my Anne.
So, why’s she an icon of my youth?
Well, she’s plucky, for one. I think I was always a bit plucky. Hold on, does anyone actually know the definition of that word? Whatever, I am sticking with plucky. She holds her own, at least. She’s been tossed around from family to family, no one ever wanting her, but she never lost her spirit. And she never lost her intelligence. She loves books, poetry, and she loves learning things. When she finally settles in P.E.I. she becomes somewhat of a star at the local Avonlea school, constantly competing academically with Gilbert Blythe, already the top of the class.
She stands up for herself. She’s used to people insulting her to her face, but she’ll never take it. When people can’t keep their comments to themselves well then neither can she, elders or no, insult her hair and she’ll insult your fat ass. I think this is something to admire. Sure, maybe she should be more polite, but she’s a firm believer in treating people the way they treat you. I don’t see much wrong with that. It may be prudent to hold one’s tongue, but it never got anyone anywhere. Honesty and having a temper may not always mix, but it made for a really great character. And, okay, so… hitting someone over the head with a slate is probably not the best way to react when someone calls you “Carrots”, but he had it coming.
Most of all, Anne taught me about friendship. All she ever wanted, through her, basically foster care, tribulations before arriving on P.E.I. was a bosom friend. The best sort of friend anyone could ever ask for. The kind you stay up late whispering secrets to. The kind that will forgive anything, but will never have to. The kind of friend who sticks by you no matter where you go, how far apart you’ve been, and what changes in your lives. Anne found her bosom friend in Diana Berry, and they both told me these things were important and so I made sure I secured them. Luckily, K was a fan too.
Plus, well, how in love was I with Gilbert Blythe? A lot. Am I still? Uh… little bit. But you can read the books or watch the movies yourself for that story, I can’t spoil everything.
**Update 9/1/10 (which is pretty much the day after I wrote this to begin with, eh, what can I say?)
I forgot something important. The sort of thing that I probably forgot because it’s so completely important. Anne likes to imagine things. Passionately. It’s part of the way she made it through her less than ideal upbringing, and all of what makes her so completely Anne Shirley. She sees a lake that everyone calls a pond and sees fascinating things below the surface. She takes a world that is sometimes bleak and harsh and molds something beautiful, something exciting, and makes it somewhere worth living. So her imagining gets her in trouble every once in awhile, that’s the nature of the story. Throughout my childhood I was inspired to imagine too. A game of Barbies was never just a game of Barbies. They became multi-faceted stories that were planned out days in advance with rich characters. Plays were put on in the basement, using three actors and a couple of old costumes. Landscapes became adventurous. Anne taught me to imagine, to create, and I think that’s worth celebrating.