It's hard to miss her. Magazine racks, the television, the Internet. Everywhere I look. I may not know Lindsay Lohan, but it feels, lately, as if I do.
It's strange. She reminds me of my sister. I don't know why. Rebecca was dark, voluptuous. Lohan, obviously, is not. She's a pretty woman. Sometimes even beautiful. She possesses that odd combination of ordinariness and perfection that all the great stars have. Familiar and yet anything but.
Even in the photos of her passed out, intoxicated or stumbling from the back of a limousine, she looks attractive, healthy. Her pale, Irish-Italian skin is flawless. Her teeth are unnaturally white.
A 21-year-old alcoholic, after all, never seems quite as sad as a 41-year-old one. It takes time for such sadness to show itself.
My sister was 41 when she died. Following a lengthy battle with alcohol and drugs, she managed to get clean. Not long after, she killed herself. Using a high-heeled shoe to pound a hole above the door frame in the upstairs bedroom of her old farmhouse, she hung herself. Her daughter found her.
Next to my sister's body, on the wooden floor, the police found two cigarette butts. Apparently, she stopped to smoke, and think, before killing herself. What was she thinking?
"Just because someone doesn't love you like you want to be loved,' she once wrote, "doesn't mean they don't love you.' Did she know she was loved?
Love does not always save the day.
"How are you?' I asked my sister.
"Good,' she replied.
"Had I a mighty gun,' Emily Dickinson once wrote, "I think I would shoot the entire human race and then to glory run!' Such a line surprises me. It hints at a question her other poems never answered.
What I know about Lohan is only what others say or write. We are a society of judges, killers, passersby. Everyone is an expert. "I have no sympathy for her whatsoever,' writes Annoyed on USmagazine.com. "I hope she gets the worst penalty you can for her convictions.'
"Playing the role of a hard-partying, post-rehab hottie doesn't stop with attending weekly meetings or accessorizing with ankle monitors,' writes Melissa Magsaysay in the Los Angeles Times. "[Nicole] Richie and Lohan may have completed stays in the clinic, but they don't look like they're making sober style choices.'
I've never noticed what she wears. Or doesn't wear. If asked by an alien to describe Lohan, I could say only that she's pretty, even beautiful, with pale, freckled skin and red hair. Or is it blond?
"There's scarcely been a movie this gifted young actress hasn't made her own,' writes Ella Taylor in the Village Voice. "A self-possessed, intelligent screen presence, she can outgun any caricature, including a parody of herself.' I wouldn't know. I've never seen any of her movies. She's been directed by Robert Altman, I know that.
Could it be that the most profound of our questions will forever remain unanswered? Is that our lot?
History says yes. If less violent (occasionally) in our approach, we remain as adamant as ever that what we love is worthy of love and what we hate worthy of hatred. Our prejudices remain intact.
"She's not sexy. She's what my grandson affectionately calls a 'skank,'' writes Alan Henderson in a Web article titled 12 Reasons To Hate Lindsay Lohan.
Twelve reasons? Funny. I can't think of one.
Each of us, I imagine, has known someone, loved someone, in trouble, someone lost but unwilling or unable to be found. "She is so misunderstood,' says Lohan's mother in an interview. "All she wants to do is act and have a somewhat normal life. She can't live in a bubble.'
Perhaps not, but she can, indeed, die in one.
I miss my sister. Having confronted the raw, plain six-sided box of her death, I am able now to remember the better times, the good times.
I remember her gorgeous face and dark eyes. I remember the way she danced. Her love of fashion. I remember her career as a cartographer. She made maps. I remember the way she said my name.
Occasionally, though, in a dark moment, I feel guilty. She was in trouble. She was lost. I couldn't find her. I couldn't save her. What's worse is that, apparently, she didn't want me to save her. I was, at the last, irrelevant.
"I'll talk to you later,' she said the last time I saw her.
"When you're famous, you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way,' Marilyn Monroe once said.
We love our movie stars. We hate them, too. Like children, we expect our toys to function properly. Entertain us! we demand. When they're broken, we discard them. Monroe is dead. Lohan is alive. But without the benefit of time or a tragic death to validate her, to create her legacy, she's just another falling star.
"Stop hiring this sick yo ung woman,' writes Liz Kelly in a Washington Post article titled Go Away, Lindsay Lohan.
Girls and boys who go away sometimes never come back.
I miss my sister.
Mustafa Mutabaruka is an Alberta-based writer and author of the novel Seed (Akashic Books).