Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Heard You

Thirteenth birthday, living in Prineville, Oregon, my mom drives me, my cousin, and two friends over to Kah-Nee-Ta, a Reservation with natural hot springs and a resort.

In the car my mom decides to do a little facts of life lesson. She explains how boys our age are so full of testosterone and sperm, she really feels sorry for them. On and on she goes. I am dying of humiliation, but my friends keep asking questions, obviously starved for this information previously denied to them.

I am a huge Judy Blume fan, read all her books a million times. Except for one, Forever. The Prineville public library has it, but the librarian will not check it out to anyone under thirteen. I march myself in there on the morning of my thirteenth birthday and make my demand for the book. The book is a key component to the away slumber party. No book, no "activity" planned.

The four of us devour the book, speculating on our own far off loss of virginity.

Weeks after the birthday weekend, one of my friends, Julie, corners me at school, panicky.

"Will you ask your mom a question for me? It's a secret. Don't tell anyone, and don't let her tell anyone."

"OK," I reassure.

"Ask her if you have sex before you start your period, if you can get pregnant later, when you do start your period."

I didn't really understand. I knew she hadn't begun to menstruate, nor did she have any sort of boyfriend.

"My brother's friend..." she shyly said.

I knew then that she had been raped, and for years had been worrying she'd be retroactively made pregnant.

I asked my mom. She explained that impossibility. The next day I took the good news to Julie.

That was the last time Julie and I ever spoke of it. Our friendship was never the same, and eventually I moved away and never saw her again.


Thirty years later the look on her face still haunts me.

I heard you, Julie. I know it didn't look like it to you. I know you think I forgot. I know you think it was no big deal to me. Not true.

Rape of children and women is a very big deal to me. Very.

I heard you, Julie.

I am working to increase awareness of this epidemic.

I am working with survivors to help them heal from this profound trauma.

I am working to change the world so this crime of shame and silence is a thing of the past.

I heard you, Julie.


Jenny Rough said...

There is a book coming out this summer about how Judy Blume influenced so many in our generation. Can't wait to read it.

More importantly, the work that you are doing today is so critical. Bless you.

jennifer said...

Great post!!

Kim said...

SO powerful and affecting. Your words and actions are truly changing the world for the better. (Plus I completely lived for Judy Blume.)

Jerri said...

Sitting here in the snug, warm waiting room at the car dealership, waiting for Paula to finish her 10,000 mile check-up, I'm shivering with a chill and goosebumps are bumping all over my body.

Wonderful post, Carrie. Wonderful work, too.

Amanda said...

wow, that's a powerful story. and clearly a powerful memory, given the work it's inspired you to do.

Terry Whitaker said...

Incredible how a moment so long ago, which was so unclear at the time, can come back with such clarity. Amazing.

Lee Wolfe Blum said...

Beautiful post!

Yes...I too devoured Judy Blume...but mostly b/c my Mom wouldn't dare discuss the subject!