I’m on season three of the walking dead.
I started last week. This is actually a big deal, believe it or not. A milestone, perhaps. Feel free to send your congratulations.
Those who know me know I pretty much love all things creepy and mysterious. Vampires/werewolves/ghosts/shapeshifters/etc. call me up, and I’ll tell you the best stories/movies/soundtracks.
Sure, they scare the crap out of me. My childhood consisted of this cycle: Find scary movie > convince mom to let me watch said movie/watch it secretly while accepting the inevitability of a grounding > finish the movie > THAT WAS SO AWESOME OMG *talk about it with everyone* > Get ready for bed > Lie awake in complete and utter terror until the adrenaline finally wears off and Ifall into a deep and nightmare-filled sleep > Wake up > Do it all again
Vampires were especially my jam. Interview with The Vampire. The Lost Boys. Fright Night. I would watch these movies with the same enthusiasm with which I approached my father’s dares to put my tongue to the edge of a battery or swallow a whole teaspoon of Wasabi
Basically like HELL YES
WHY WOULD I DO THAT
WAIT I DID THAT
THEREFORE LET’S GO AGAIN
COME AT ME BRO
It was a beautiful blend of
As I grew up, I found the merit in vampire movies. I found the complexity, the themes of redemption, and wonderful symbolism about the war between our flesh and our souls.
Zombies, however? Zombies and I NEVER made it past the first date.
Where vampires were all Keifer Sutherland on a motorcycle, Zombies were REANIMATED CORPSES. No witty dialogue, no wrestling with the darker nature of humanity. Just hungry flesh, which is disgusting. Everyone has been talking about The Walking Dead forever, but I’ve always just dismissed it. No frickin way. I never really knew why I felt this way until I was pregnant, but I think it started a few years ago.
When I was a sophomore in college, I went to Nicaragua with my Dad. Our group took a twelve-hour boat ride up the Rio Coco River in order to deliver some medical supplies to the tribes up there. Before I left the states, I stocked up on medical supplies: rubber gloves, gauze… everything. We were going in the jungle – I didn’t know what to expect.
When we finally reached our destination, I realized that bringing those supplies had changed my place in the group. Our friend Noel got a cut, and my dad told him to ask me for a Band-Aid. He only speaks Spanish, and as I put on my gloves and cleaned his cut, he started calling me “La Doctora”. I thought it was a joke, but it took me all of three seconds to realize it wasn’t. I was the closest thing they had to a doctor on that river, and that’s what I became.
People brought me their children, cut and bleeding. One girl had a machete wound across all four fingers that was wrapped in a disgusting old handkerchief. I had to take it off to clean the cut, and she screamed. I looked her in the eyes, trying my best to explain in a language not my own that I wasn’t trying to hurt her.
I was okay doing that, though I always left each encounter shaking and ready to cry.
Then, on one of our last days, a young man brought his elderly father to me. My dad pulled me aside and warned me that there was nothing I could do for his condition, but that it made his son feel better to bring him to “La Doctora”.
I was expecting another cut. Maybe a burn.
But the guy pulled his boot off and I realized that half his foot was eaten away by Gangrene. I had to keep my face blank as I explained to his son that I would try and clean the wound, but he would need it amputated.
The man didn’t flinch as I took my gloves and tweezers and tried my best to clean the remaining skin while killing the flies that were feeing on the dead, necrotic flesh on his foot. It took almost half an hour, and he thanked me as he – to my dismay – shoved his foot right back into the boot and limped off.
I cried, shaking and deciding I couldn’t do it anymore. There was no medical aid, up here. That old man was going to die. I knew it, his son knew it, and there was nothing I could do.
I’m done, I thought.
I’m nineteen. I’m excited about the Twilight movie coming out next year. I still buy Bonnie Bell lip gloss. I’m so done with this grown-up shit.
And I pushed it as far from my mind as I could. We left, we came home, and I resolved to be nineteen.
I wanted to stay nineteen. I didn’t want to see the darkness I knew was right outside my door. I didn’t want to have to look into someone’s eyes and know they were dying. I didn’t want to “grow up” if that’s what “growing up” meant.
That’s where zombies come in.
When I was pregnant, I had horrible, awful zombie dreams. In them, I’d be responsible for getting everyone safe, and I’d realize as a hoard was coming over the horizon that I forgot the dog, or something. Or that I left the door open. Or that I forgot all the food. I failed to protect those I love.
I’d wake up in a cold sweat, curse the inventors of zombies, curse the maker of zombie movies, and shake Ross awake just to remind him how much I hated zombies.
So a couple weeks ago, I was really frustrated with myself. I felt overwhelmed and angry and I was surfing Hulu and what did I find but… Fear the Walking Dead.
I did what I usually do when I’m about to do something stupid. I double-checked that Ross wasn’t around to save me from myself…
…and then I watched the first episode.
In the first twenty seconds, there’s a girl zombie eating someone and at first I was like AHHHHHHH WHYYYY but then… then I wanted to keep watching. The characters were actually really good. They were good enough for Ross and I to watch all six episodes. Then we realized the second season wasn’t out yet he was like….
“There’s always the original Walking Dead.”
I didn’t know if I was ready. This was the big leagues. The Walking Dead. It didn’t get any more zombie than that.
“Just the pilot,” I said, uttering the words responsible for the thoughtless murder of thousands of potentially-productive hours everywhere.
And I liked it.
I loved it.
I was ready for it.
I stayed awake, not because I was scared, but because I was trying to understand what this new part of me was. This part that LOVED zombies. The part that now listened to “Zombie” by The Cranberries with renewed enthusiasm and anxiously waited for Aryn to go to sleep so we could watch another episode (because I do think that show is WAY too much for a kid).
What about zombies made me want to throw up before, but made me totally fine, now?
I realized what it was.
I grew up.
I am responsible for another living person. I have to feed her and clothe her and keep a job that’s challenging to make sure to be able to help pay for the mortgage that houses her. I’ve been through labor and seen horrible things unfold in the world around me. I’ve seen people die and watched people I love make hard, life-changing decisions.
Any bumbling idiot teenager can handle a vampire. Werewolves are great campfire stories. Zombies, however… zombies demand everyone become a grown-up. Zombies demand that you think about others and made selfless decisions. They demand that you find the part of yourself that wants to turn away because it’s too hard and make it turn to look at the blood. That used to terrify me. While I was pregnant, this thought fed on my darkest fears: that I could not – despite the baby growing inside me, the ring on my finger, the fancy letters after my name and the job I had – adult.
Now, the same thought makes me feel strong. I can make hard decisions. I can help take care of my family. I’ve got scars that I don’t mind showing and ones that I do, and I don’t f***in’ scare easy.
So bring on the zombies. Bring on the responsibility, and for the love of all things good, bring on SOMETHING THAT WILL KILL THE GOVERNOR OMG HE IS THE WORST CHARACTER IN THE HISTORY OF CHARACTERS
TELL ME HE DIES
WAIT DON’T TELL ME.
And bring on season 4 at 2am, because I’m a grown-ass adult and can do that.