a Green Thing
For the first time that she can remember, Maya Stark is beginning to feel like a “normal” teenager. Even with her mother in jail for drug possession and her pop-star father away on his comeback tour, Maya’s new life with her uncle Allen and cousin Kim is coming together. Summer vacation’s just beginning, and with a new job, a new boyfriend, and a new car (hybrid, of course), things are finally starting to look up.
But that doesn’t mean life is about to get any easier. Maya’s still devoted to living Green, and her uncle offers her a Green column in his newspaper. With the opportunity to make a difference in the town’s attitude toward the environment, Maya wonders how this fits with her newfound commitment to Christ. And if she can really consider herself a Christian when her feelings toward a fellow youth group member are anything but loving…
“With a security lock, of course,” she confessed. Anyway, this nicely bound book (a green product made of recycled materials) seems to be enticing me to write. Especially since I already filled up my old diary, which is safely hidden away in one of my suitcases tucked into the back of the guest room closet. Okay, as both Kim and my uncle keep telling me, “It’s not the guest room, Maya. It’s your room.” I’m trying to see it that way. But it’s not easy. So much about my life is not easy…but I must admit that it’s getting better. And I do have hope.
Anyway, since today was rather interesting and the beginning of summer vacation, I will start here. Although to get “here,” I need to go back to before the school year ended. I’d been attending Harrison High for several weeks when Mr. Fenton challenged our art class to volunteer for a community project. We’d been invited by the park district to create a mural on a downtown youth center. A lot of kids signed up, and everyone seemed supportive and interested. But today, the first day of the project, Marissa Phillips and I were the only ones to actually show.
“It figures,” she said as the two of us stood gazing up at the big, boring wall. The paint was splotchy looking, with random beige smears that resembled a bad case of psoriasis. Probably someone’s attempt to hide the graffiti and tagging, although a few offensive words still showed through.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“That no one else would come.”
“Why’s that?” I adjusted the twisted strap ofmy OshKosh overalls. I’d gotten dressed pretty quickly this morning, barely managing to catch the downtown bus.
“Because people are basically selfish.”
I turned and looked at her. With hands planted on her hips, Marissa stared at the ugly wall and frowned. For some reason, when I first began attending Harrison High, I felt drawn to this girl. Like we shared some commonality. And I suppose we do have some physical similarities. We’re both tall and have long hair, although hers is straight and mine is curly. And because she dyes it black, her hair’s a lot darker than mine. I think that’s why her complexion looks so pale. Whereas mine (thanks to my dad) is the color of café au lait. But our looks aside, we are similar in other ways too. Or maybe we both just have an attitude. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and has opinions that not everyone shares. She’s also two years older than I am. In fact, she just graduated with my cousin Kim.
Not that she seems older exactly. Or maybe I just feel older than sixteen. Sometimes I feel like I’m in my thirties. But a hard life can do that to a person.
“So if that’s true,” I asked Marissa, “if people are basically selfish, why are you here?”
She laughed. “I thought you knew.”
“I’m doing community service.”
“Oh…something that happened a couple of months ago. I guess you hadn’t moved here yet.”
“What did you do?”
“I got caught with alcohol in my car.”
“Driving under the influence?” I knew Marissa was kind of a wild child, but I thought she had more sense than that.
“No.” She shook her head firmly. “I wasn’t under the influence. I was underage.”
“It didn’t really help much that my dad’s a cop.” She made a face as she reached into her bag and retrieved a pack of cigarettes. She shook one out, quickly lit it, then blew out an exasperated puff.
“Your dad’s a cop?” Now this caught me off guard. Of all people who might have law enforcement officials in their family, Marissa just doesn’t seem to fit the profile. I can only imagine how frustrated her father must feel.
“Oh yeah…” She peered back at the wall. “In fact it was his recommendation that I spend my summer vacation performing community service. If dear old Dad hadn’t been in court that day, I probably would’ve gotten off a lot easier.”
“You’re doing community service for the whole summer?”
“Yep.” She blew another puff of smoke over her shoulder.
“And you’re okay with that?”
“It was either that or give up my car and move out of the house. And I wasn’t financially ready for that…not just yet.” She took in a slow drag, then looked curiously at me. “So what’s your excuse?”
“For being here.”
“You mean because I must be basically selfish too?”
“I just wanted to do it,” I admitted. “I mean, when Mr. Fenton described the project, it sounded kind of fun to help someone else, and he made it seem like it would only take a week.”
Marissa laughed sarcastically. “Yeah, right. Think again.”
I frowned back up at the wall. “With just the two of us, this mural could end up being your entire summer of community service.”
“I wouldn’t mind so much, except that it’s going to be scorching out here before long, and this wall is in the sun most of the day.” She reached in her bag again, and this time pulled out her cell phone...
End of Chapter 1 Excerpt - More excerpt from chapter 1 coming in tomorrow's email!
From the Author:
Maya is the fourth and final character in the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and It’s a Green Thing is Maya’s second book. If you read A Not-So-Simple Life, you know that Maya has been through a lot.
Perhaps a checked-out mom (who ends up in prison) is why Maya originally decided to live green. Maybe being environmentally conscious was the only part of her life that she could control. But what happens when Maya becomes a Christian? Does her commitment to loving the planet fade away? Or will it supersede her commitment to loving God? And what about those Christians who are so focused on heaven that they don’t care about what happens to earth anyway? Maya believes that since God created the earth, we have a responsibility to take good care of the earth.
Although I agree with Maya’s philosophy, I must confess that I’m not as green as she is. And sometimes I imagine her shaking her finger at me when I throw something away that might possibly be recycled. But like many things, conservation is something we can practice and become better at. But I hope Maya will encourage you to live green and to love God. What a great combination.