Monday, August 18, 2014

Mythology Monday: To Percy Jackson (A Letter)

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Dear Percy,

You should see my copy of The Lightning Thief. The cover is ripped and the corners are bent. Part of the spine is coming off. It has been opened so many times there are thin white lines obscuring the embossed title—but I don’t need the title to tell me what it is. It is a beginning.

I never thought it would start that way, though. I was devouring the Greek Myths my own way, and I read Pandora, and Myth-o-Mania, and Edith Hamilton. I even read my entire encyclopedia of Western mythology. But read Rick Riordan? Never. And it’s not that I hadn’t heard of the books, I was just sure I wouldn’t like them. In fact, I was positive I would loathe them.

My fellow twelve-year-olds were wiser than I, and they noted that my uncanny knowledge of Greek gods and goddesses and my recent attempt to memorize the Greek alphabet meant something. I think Grant—red haired Grant, who always wore jerseys and had a companionable sister—had to recommend the books at least three times before I finally caved.

And then I fell in love with the first line.

“Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.”

From there, I guess you could say it’s history. I became obsessed. My thirst for more adventures was insatiable, and my room took on a Percy Jackson theme. If we’re completely honest, I still have Greek Mythology ceiling hangings and half the cast is still taped up on my gods wall.

You did another two things, Percy. Things I wasn’t anticipating. The first, of course, was a desire for heroism I have not yet achieved. My common username is still “HeroineHiding,” and I have no desire to change it. Six years later, I still love the way it sounds, and I still love imagining myself as my own little protagonist in my own little world. I don’t think it would have the same meaning for me if you weren’t there.

The other thing was writing.

The story of how I came to write fan fiction is long and illustrious and not one I intend to share today, but suffice it to say that before you, I thought fan fiction was illegal. Like, they would lock you up and you would never see Apollo’s dang sun car ever again.

But on a board for The 39 Clues, we started a Roleplay. Percy Jackson themed, of course—and for the first time, I was writing. A lot. I was Shadow Darkweed, mortal daughter of Hades and Persephone, and joined by half-bloods Kizzy Geronimo, Aquamarine “Maree” Cahill, Blazering Polynebt (?), Bethany Cinders, Lucas, Zee, and Mae Carter. You, Annabeth, and Nico featured too, of course.

I’ll admit: I was the worst godmodder the world has ever seen, our writing had little plot and made no sense, and we mostly ignored the other kids who tried to join because Mod Jen B. wasn’t going to let us kick them out. These days I’m not proud of that.

All the same, it was a start. I was writing. And eventually your world wasn’t enough for me—I started writing things on my own. I had worlds to create, ideas to spin, lives to live and stories to tell. You were my catalyst.

And that catalyst still has me working over six years later.

I think my point is this: you are a hero. My hero. And not because you kill monsters, or treat your mom so nicely, or have grown into almost-a-man, or have a good relationship with Annabeth, or choose to understand, or love people that many other people in your world believe have no business being loved—though I admire all those things about you.

You are a hero because you made me want to be one. And, in many ways, you have made me one.

So happy birthday, Percy. And I don’t mean that as in “I hope you like your presents and blue cake” but a phrase of celebration. Your life, however fictional it may be, has been worth living. Minotaurs, hydras, guinea pigs, Titans, gods, battles, wars, victories, and prophecies to begin it all again: they mean something. They mean something to me.

Thank you, Percy. For the good times, the bad times, and the times I have yet to read. I guess it turns out that a high school senior may not be as grown-up as she thought she was, and she may need a few more myths to see her through the year. I’ll catch you later.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dump blue food coloring over everything I eat today.

Again, happy birthday!



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