As the credits for The Glass Castle rolled, so did my tears. Once in the lobby, I excused myself and entered into a bathroom stall where I bawled my eyes out.
Watching the The Glass Castle felt as if a scab was being ripped off as my tears flowed into the toilet (the loo is exactly where feelings are meant to end up, right?) Sure I was envious of Wells’ success, but I really do applaud her and think she’s extraordinary.
I read the book when it first came out in 2005 and couldn’t believe someone had an upbringing so like mine, except that my mother was better equipped than was Mrs. Wells at taking care of her four children. We never went hungry and there was always light.
Am I jealous that another writer had some success even though she made herself vulnerable to the whole world by exposing her dysfunctional family? Hell, I would, too, if there was some sort of guarantee that I’d make some money (I do have a parent loan I need to pay off!). I have a cousin who majored in English Lit and I always wondered why she hadn’t written anything — at least nothing I’ve ever read before. She told me she was waiting until her mother died first. Well, mine is still alive and giving me plenty to write about.
Wells did exactly what a good writer with a story is supposed to do. Show and don’t just tell. And Hollywood did it one better by sugarcoating the story, thereby pulling at the heartstrings — making the audience feel. But damn it, I’m really feeling jealous and to be honest, it isn’t because of her success, besides that comes if you do what you love, right? I’m jealous because she had a relationship with her father that I didn’t, at least not at the end of my story that I’ll write someday (Dad’s dead, but still there are family members who’d kill me. You should have seen them sweat bullets when I did his eulogy!).
As crazy as her life was, Wells’ father still loved her and he showed her in his wacko way. Just like in the movie when they looked up to the heavens and her father pointed out the stars, even giving her a planet for Christmas, I remember my dad pointing out the Virgin Mary hovering in the clouds (he did give me a bottle of Charlie — his name — perfume that Christmas). To be honest, he did give me some memories like the times when I was a little girl and he took me hunting, fishing, and flying with him. He gave me stories like the one where he believed he was the son of Pancho Villa or Hitler, even. Or the story about how Mulholland had killed his father to get his widow mother’s property just like in the movie Chinatown. So yes, I suppose he gave me stuff, but one day all that changed and Dad would be incapable of giving any much more. Am I jealous because I didn’t have a father like Wells? Now that’s just sick! I may need to run to the toilet again.