Ask the Passengers (by A.S. King)

27 11 2012

Dear Astrid,

I just wanted to send you this letter to tell you I got your message loud and clear! If any other person had said everything you said, it would sound corny as hell, but because it’s you, I know it came straight from your heart and that’s just something I love about you. Come to think about it, I know I don’t say it enough, so I might as well do it now, so here goes…

I love you because you’re just such a complicated and conflicted human being. At first when you told me that you sent your love to the passenger flying above, I was skeptical. Actually, not really skeptical, but more sad for you. Didn’t you have people around you to love? Who loved you back? What a sad sad planet if a 17-year-old awesome girl has to send her love to total strangers. I know you told me you feel estranged from your parents, your friends even, heck, even estranged from yourself, but this love sending thing, it sounded too Twin Peaks… But now that I know you better, it’s just who you are, you know? You don’t need it (even though you totally do, dude, hence this letter!), so you’re just giving it away! I couldn’t do it. You’re bigger than the people around you, and definitely bigger than me. Some people would call you messed up (hell, I did too before I knew you!), but they’re just wrong. You’re not messed up, you’re real and selfless, and all-accepting. Your spirit is indomitable, which is maybe what I most love about you.

I love you because you know what a hard thing it can be to make decisions, because you realize that even though these decisions really are about you and nobody else’s business really… they’re not just affecting you, but also the people around you. Some decisions need time. You need time. You need the time to make mistakes, you need to get lost, and then you need to find again, you definitely need to find the exit to the cave on your own and you have to decide whether you want to go back into the cave or not. And I want to give you the time to figure things out for yourself. You should never be pushed into something you don’t want to. I know how friends and  (especially!) parents can be, though. I mean, when you’re a teenager, you’re convinced your parents just won’t get it – Hello, they’re parents = nag, nag, nag = job description! So you want at least your friends to understand what you are talking about or, in your case, not talking about. You hope they will at least give you the time to become the person you really are. But when they start pressuring you into saying, doing and thinking in a certain way, the urge to just explode must be overwhelming.

And when you explode, you do it so well! I love you for that! All the time you behave so entirely noble, not wanting anything in return for the love you give people, but once you’ve reached that point of no return, phew… you just have to let it out, right? I loved the way you called your dad on his behavior. Such a great conversation with your dad… that definitely must have taken a lot of guts. Also, I have to say that I still love you despite the fact that you called your mom a bitch then. I know, I know, she really did behave like a bitch around you – I mean what’s up with the Mommy and Me thing, right? – but it’s still your mom, you know? I guess it’s a big no no to say that moms have favorites. But they so do. Anyway, I get the frustration. I felt your frustration, all those thousands of miles away, I felt it. Doesn’t she see how hard her behavior is on you?

I love you because at 17, you’ve totally figured out the boxes!  Wow! You know that my own peers haven’t figured out yet that boxes make you small? Not you, though, you defy the boxes. Even Kristina and Dee seem to need the boxes, but they just want to contain you again and in their world there are still fixed forms and their boxes are just as rigid as the “defined normalcy” they’re fighting in their own complicated way.  Actually,  that reminds me of this girl, Louise, I heard talking today. She’s just 2 years younger than you are, and smart as hell. She was in her English class, giving a presentation about “Love Your Body” (totally boss topic, btw!), and she’d been researching all of these advertisements, but the one that really caught her eye was this totally sexist ad with a caption like “Even a woman can do it” or some such nonsense, and she went into this long (but eloquent) rant about the word “even”. She rocked, dude! She got it too. About the boxes, I mean.

I love you, Astrid, because you are totally grounded in reality yet aren’t afraid to dream. You know that you are really going somewhere. I mean, motion is possible and you don’t take bullshit from these philosophers saying that there is no such thing (killer Humanities class, btw, you definitely have to send over your notes!). Love how you used their arguments to prove your own point and to rouse discussion !

Lastly, Astrid, I share your complete distrust of gossip – small town or big town. Gossip – like boxes – makes you small. And it doesn’t represent who you really are, just another label! I hate it when that happens. People just always assume they know everything about you – sometimes / often even without actually having talked to you.

So anyway, I’m really thankful you sent me your love. I just had to respond!  Here’s me sending you some love too!


Ringo the Cat

Girl lying on sand, reaching up to the sunPS. A.S. King, dude, I totally love you too because each and every time I read your books, you do something that so few authors can. Not only do you make me not want to stop reading, but your books start up a dialogue – so Socratic of you 😉 . I love that you make me think and respond!  And more than anything, you’re probably the only author who speaks to my brain and my heart with equal ferocity.

And I love your disregard for boxes too. I know “they” often call what you write “magical realism”, or they will call Ask the Passengers an Issues-novel, or an LGBT-novel. Whatever.  There’s just no other author who does what you do. You are right: you just write books. But what books they are!



2 responses

22 12 2012
The 12 of 2012! « Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] Ask the Passengers (A.S. King)* […]

1 06 2014
“Hope, I got it.” – An interview with A.S. King | Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] How could I not? Even if they don’t respect me, I respect them. It’s how I operate. See also: Ask the Passengers. I wish I would have written Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. I think he’s one of the best […]

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