Sunday, January 21, 2018

Stephen King's It

At the moment I'm only half way through the reading of this book, and yet, I already understand why it was forbidden to me. It makes good sense now, and there is something terribly freeing in the flick of pages, passage of words, and growth of characters as I continue to pass through the lives of people in Derry, Maine.

It was probably somewhere near the mythical 1985 that I first read a book by Stephen King. I was around 10 years old and I was a ravenous reader. I went easily from Scholastic book of the month selections, to Tolkien, to King. When dragged along to things I didn't want to go to I'd find the place free books could be found and I would stock up on everything good I could get for whatever small change I had in my pockets. I was fairly good at this. How I came to read King, I couldn't tell you but I still remember Carrie and the Gunslinger while I was at the bright and shiny young age of 10 or 11.

Carrie taught me about orgasms, the Gunslinger made evil real and from there it was all Misery, and The Shining, and collections of short stories of gypsies, tramps, thieves, children adults. I was aware of the book It around the age of 12. This was the only story that was forbidden to me. El diablo Madre told me in no uncertain terms I was not allowed to read the book.

In all the things I fought her on and outright defied her on, for some reason, I gave her It. Oh, I read the Stand, and I would read the next three Gunslinger books, I'd hunt down old copies of King. My friends who were also readers helped me uncover his titles publishes as Bachman, and then puberty was well into full swing and I got a bit distracted by Johanna Lindsey and trying to survived my last few years at home.

It was forgotten.

Perhaps because there is a remake of the film that is rather everywhere, perhaps it was because King mentioned that "you could always read the book to see how the story ends", perhaps it is because I have been mentally working through a variety of things lately, that I decided I can/should/would read It now.

Half way through a thousand or so pages I suddenly found myself understanding exactly why this had been forbidden to me as a child. Goodness knows it's not the scary or erotic content. I was easily given Carrie, for goodness sake, not to mention a pile of Dean Koontz that did a lot more for my nightmares. I'd thumbed through the copy of the Joy of Sex more than a hundred times by the age of 10 and those good decision makers of my upbringing let me watch Fatal Attraction with them when I was 8.

No, it's wasn't the content, it was almost certainly the characters. Children who become adults in the most realistic way that you can see the connection between the child they were and the adult they would become. The line between making decisions, taking control, defying parents, doing the thing they needed to do to grow and become humans who, later, might have to make very difficult decisions as adults after having already made very difficult decisions as children. In short, the story of it (mind you I'm only half way through) is almost certainly a roadmap for autonomy written in clear, precise language and executed brilliantly in a way that I most certainly would have connect with. Living in a home where the need for complete subjugation, be it through fear, drugs, or alcohol, any kind of path to autonomy would be have been anathema.

Fortunately for me, I developed a strong path to autonomy anyway and managed to avoid the drugs and the booze that was easily supplied in the household. Unfortunately, I'm not without deep scars from the various other types of manipulation and control. In the end, it didn't matter, I found freedom and have never been blase about what it cost me.

This is, perhaps, the connection I have with the story I read now. A young girl how was forced to do adult things, an adult woman who sometimes is so very haunted by a past she can't quite recall despite all her other successes. I cannot say. What I do know, is that I'm glad I have finally put to rest a wall that has stood in my mind for over thirty years. Let those old barriers continue to fall away.

Let the peace on the other side stand taller and stronger.

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