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The plan was to see “HotelRwanda” in Boston and then for the five of us - Tori, Liz, Mary,Dani and me - to sleep at Meg’s house. I had brought my video ofthe ridiculous TV show I had made with some friends and was excited toshare it afterward.
Five minutes into “Hotel Rwanda,”I realized that no one would ever laugh at my inane, semi-satirical soapopera after this. We might not laugh again the entire night. I felt edgyand filled with dread during the film because I knew what was going tohappen and I knew it actually had happened just a few years before. Inever full-out cried, but my eyes did tear up. Dani cried a little, andMary was sobbing. One part that really hit me was when the Europeans andAmericans left in buses, and all the Rwandans lined up outside the hoteland watched them go. I just felt as if I’dbreak.
“When people see this footage,” said onecharacter, a cameraman, “I think they’re going to say, ‘Ohmy God, that’s horrible,’ and then go back to theirdinners.” And it’s true.
Whatelse can you do? We left the theater and the loudest thought in my headwas, What do we do now? How can we just go eat pizza?
Wediscussed the movie a bit, and how we felt sick and angry and we ranteda little and we laughed a little, still shaken. We went into the streetsof Boston and breathed and linked arms, our purses adorned with pinspromoting peace, love and rock ’n’ roll. Mary talked andlaughed with a homeless man and gave him some money. “I’msuch a bleeding heart,” she said, smiling nonetheless.
Wearrived at our destination and made plans for achieving world peace overpizza, lamenting the flawed nature of mankind and how deeply rooted itis in jingoism and putting people in little boxes, swearing to join theU.N. or the Peace Corps or some organization that would do some good,and arguing the feasibility of a world federation. Then we had somecoffee and cookies, glanced at the nearby TV and saw that the news wastalking about a ridiculously dumb story. Why couldn’t our countryever focus on something important?
We left for Fanueil Hall,which was deserted except for an older homeless man. I gave him somemoney and he said “Bless you,” but I felt kind of lame aboutit since it wasn’t even my money, it was my mom’s. Ican’t be generous without standing on someone else, becauseI’m a dependent, idealistic, naive, spoiled little fool. Maybe weall are. A cynic would quite easily roll their eyes at us, the suburban,bleeding-heart, flower-child-wannabe Catholic schoolgirls. But I tend todisagree. Sometimes a part of me will wonder if our peace symbols arenearer to becoming a fashion statement than a political or moral one,and think of how we don’t just love poetry, we love loving poetry... but the thing is, we really are sincere. We really do want peace! Welove us, not because we’re just swept up in the image, but becausewe’ve become a sign of hope to each other. It’s good to knowthat someone else cares.
That night, all of us were shadowedthrough the streets of Boston by the undeniable fact that someone,somewhere, was dying. Someone was being killed. Murdered. Someone wasstarving to death.
But we did go back to Meg’s house and wedid watch my video and we did laugh and joke. We watched“Chicago” and tried to distract ourselves with all that jazzand sequins. It partially worked. I don’t know, I think itactually made me remember Rwanda even more because of the harsh contrastand the fact that “Chicago” is actually a big, sparkly odeto apathy and cynicism.
But I don’t think it’s apathythat made us go on and smile. It’s the human spirit. Youcan’t feel everyone’s pain all the time. You wouldn’tbe able to live if you did. Right now, we can’t do much. Butsomeday, someday we will. We’ll do something. And in the meantime,we’ll go on writing letters and putting up posters for AmnestyInternational and doing everything we can think of to help. But for thatnight, all we could do was lay down in our sleeping bags and go tosleep. We woke up the next morning, groggy and hungry and disoriented,and proceeded to have candy and bagels, swap stories andlaugh.
Later, when the others had left, Tori, Meg and I watched“Sylvia,” a movie which tastes like weariness, emptiness,bleakness and the slow erosion of everything due to time. Afterwards, welooked at Meg’s art, which was amazing, and I wished I just couldjust randomly decide to paint and make collages like her, and like Tori.I felt glad to know them. I think we all felt a bit drained forconversation so we just put on a CD, lay sideways on Meg’s bed,heads hanging upside-down over the edge, linked arms and listened tomusic. We stared out the window, watching planes go by, still in ourPJ’s. At some point, without any verbal signal to do so, we allclosed our eyes and pretended we were flying, as the blood rushed to ourheads.