I’m off on location for film shoot. I’m hanging out with a film crew and young people who have never acted before and who have lived through tougher times than I will ever know. There are moments that I think I won’t make it through the 7 weeks. But here I am one week in and still alive and finding positives in weary days.
It sounds minor but one of the hardest things for me is being constantly inundated with cigarette smoke. EVERYONE smokes, outside the doors, inside the rooms, in the car, EVERYWHERE and I am the only one that does not. So anything I do comes with smoke. You would think I would get used to it, but so far it is just gross.
The second annoyance is the LOUD rap music these young people listen to with hateful lyrics. Their music represents such a dark world and I am so the opposite! I like upbeat, bright and happy. I spend a lot of the time in the car taking them places with the music blaring and there are times that I just want to scream! But I am trying to be tolerant as these are the very least of the issues that I am dealing with.
There is heavy drug use, rudeness, foul language and disrespect. But then there is the flip side of the hurt, the abuse they have suffered and the delightful ways they have learned to cope. Each of my “charges” has a lighter side, but the dark descends with the certainty of the nightfall.
One of my jobs is to try and find things to do with them in the hours they are not needed on set. This has been a bigger challenge than it sounds when all they want to do is stay in their dingy, dark motel rooms and smoke. It takes me hours to rally them into the van to take them places. This morning they are still in their rooms and it is noon. I went out to a Farmer’s Market and exploring the small town this morning by myself. I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up my healthy habits.
Last week I took them to a Renaissance Fair and it was really fun. It was a fabulous one with a lot of vendors and in a beautiful forest setting, with costumed people talking in old english. It was a place that if I took my daughters we would have had a BLAST, getting totally into the scene, but for these young people they were bored in an hour and ready to go. So sad.
I am constantly struck by how our family situation molds who we are and how difficult it is to change that or even want to change it. So much of who we are, is who we are, and to become something different even when given a miraculous chance is almost impossible it seems. I do a lot of listening. There’s no telling these young people anything, just listening to the montage of hate and hurt and natural defensiveness against life’s perceived unfairness and distrust of everything. It all makes complete sense when you see what they have been dealt in life, so it’s a case of not judging and just loving.
But when one girl disappeared yesterday, getting in a stranger’s van with a LOT of cash on her and no cell phone, I was worried and hurt and angry. I care so deeply and I hope they can see it through the haze of smoke they live in. But right now, I’m just trying to hold onto my sanity, and keep offering another way to live.