In the new movie nominated for two Spirit Awards Wendy and Lucy, Michelle Williams, an Oscar nominee for her work as the late Heath Ledger's wife in Brokeback Mountain, gives another deeply emotional performance as Wendy Carroll, an Indiana woman who intends to reach Alaska in her unreliable Honda with her lovable dog Lucy in tow.
If the movie plot seems like an unrealistic one, I can tell you it isn't. My life seems like the real life Wendy story as written in my debut book, Held Hostage, which is not just about the crime that devastated my and my young daughter's life. Although a large portion of this true crime release focuses on the violent kidnapping, 14 hour hostage ordeal and my being forced by three masked gunmen (also gang members) to rob a bank to save our life, the aftermath and an incredible road trip from San Diego to Anchorage Alaska is written about in "such rich detail you feel as though you are in the car with her and her four legged companion" as one reviewer wrote.
I don't know what sparked "Wendy" to head for the majestic landscape of Alaksa but what sparked my needing to get out of Dodge was the threat of retaliation looming over our heads after the grand jury proceedings. I begged and borrowed enough money to fly my daughter and myself to Alaksa to be with family who lived in Eagle River. With my daughter safe, I had to return to San Diego four days later to figure out our next move. Awakened by a vivid dream, I packed up my old Kia Sportage with 104,000 miles on it and with little cash and even less food stuffed in a mini blue cooler, headed north on I-5 with my lovable pit bull named Haley.
I can relate to "Wendy" on so many levels. I actually lived many of those scenes out in my own life. When she's warily cleaning up in a service-station restroom, sleeping in her car or establishing her rapport with Lucy and her desperately seeking to start over, I felt all of that deeply and flashed back to my own experiences with vivid detail.
The gifts of that journey were those I met, the challenges I overcame, the conversations with God while sleeping in my her car and in a small dome tent I found on sale in a small Northern California town; what I discovered and embraced about myself and my past. The chapters about my road trip to recovery and back to my daughter are my favorite parts of the book and when I pull up in the driveway on my daughters 8th birthday just as I had promised...I hope readers are cheering right along with me.
The simple truth is... sometimes the most incrediible things in life happen when we are the most broken and split wide open. In those times we have the greatest chance of becoming whole. I learned that I still had wings. The men that attacked us didn't take all that I had. In fact, what I gained from that experience is the opportunity to, like Williams in the movie as Wendy, bravely explore my soul and discover that it is one that is gentle, fragile and yet so determined and resilient and find a balance between being guarded and being open to a new life with irreplaceable hope; a gift to my daughter that is beyond measure.