Category Archives: Looking Back

UPDATED: Anne Shirley and a craving for friendship

“Oh, Marilla, you’d be excited, too, if you were going to meet a little girl you hoped to be your bosom friend and whose mother mightn’t like you.”

We’ve often heard of the saying “you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends.” But Anne Shirley — orphaned as a babe and merely taken in grudgingly by neighbors — had neither the opportunity to bear the complexity of family dynamics or the luxury of selecting friends.

Anne learned at a very young age the cruelty and isolation of being friendless. Anne didn’t want friends, she needed them. She needed them so badly she made up imaginary friends out of bookcase reflections and echoes. Here was a person so in need of human interaction that she clung even to those who haven’t particularly warmed up to her (yet). For example, she opened up very very quickly to Matthew and Marilla, despite being relative strangers and in spite of knowing they probably wouldn’t adopt her. Earlier in my Anne-reading years, I chalked this up to her lack of “proper bringing up” and ignorance of social dynamics. Now I think it’s that AND she was just that starved for companionship.

Even as a kid, I was weirded out by Anne’s first encounter with Diana Barry. I mean, who does that — decide in a few swift moments to be bosom buddies for life with a girl whom she just met? Not to mention, make her new bosom buddy take a solemn vow. This extreme lack of caution over whom she’d invest her affections in is dumbfounding and slightly disturbing. But to Anne, friendship was a need, just like food and shelter. And with regard to needs, beggars can’t be choosers.

As Anne grew up and gained some stability in her life in terms of relationships, she did learn to be more discerning in choosing her friends. But that emotionally hungry child in the first few chapters of Anne of Green Gables is a strong illustration of the necessity of friendship.

*****
Personal anecdote:

When I was 5 years old, I was semi-transferred to my grandmother’s house in San Juan while my entire family lived in Quezon City. This was because the school I was enrolled in was in San Juan. The house was isolated in the sense that we had no neighbors. For a 5 year old kid, it was a gigantic house — by my count, it had 7 bedrooms at the time.

Having no other kids in proximity to play with, I resorted to my imagination. I claimed one of the second floor rooms (the yellow painted one) as my playroom. I pretended that the closet was full with dresses and that I had a carriage. And of course, I had an imaginary friend named Becky (based on the Becky character in the animated series, Princess Sarah). Needless to say, I can relate with Anne Shirley — when you can’t have real friends, make up your own.

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“Do things ever give you a thrill?”

I don’t remember how I felt when I read Anne of Green Gables. for the first time. I liked it, of course, but at 10 years old, I wasn’t yet plagued with the self awareness that I constantly live with now. And also, at that age, I would read just about anything for the sake of reading. I wish I could say that I remember being thrilled by Anne’s character. But at least I can say with all honesty that Anne Shirley is an irremovable part of my life.

The idea for this “project” came to mind as I was reading Laura Miller’s The Magician’s Book. Now a literary critic, she writes about her journey through The Chronicles of Narnia which she abandoned in her teens when she felt betrayed by its Christian themes. Later, as an adult, she comes to love Narnia again despite her disagreements with some themes and portrayals in the series.

Reading the book immediately posed the question, “If I were to write about a book that I absolutely loved as a child and as an adult, what would it be?” Anne of Green Gables was the only option. The series has a pervasive influence in all aspects of my life that, without it, I don’t think I would be who I am today.

With this blog project, I want to accomplish three primary things:

1. To give the best tribute within my writing powers to the eight books and the author (Lucy Maud Montgomery) who has been with me through childhood, puberty, and now adulthood.

2. To find kindred spirits out there who share my love for Anne Shirley and L.M. Montgomery.

3. To make myself regularly write about something that I truly love.

I hope that you’d keep me company. Who knows you might catch Anne’s spirit of imagination and fancy?