When I giggle at my goal as a fifth grader to write a story a day, collecting thick purple folders of words and pictures, stapled into books, I remember the process of learning to live a creative life. It was then that I realized the more I wrote, the more I had to write. The more I wrote, the more I lived my life with my eyes wide open — always looking for my next story.
Thinking about my best friend, my lifeline when entering middle school, moving away, the heartache remains as fresh now as it was twenty years ago. I’m able to remember how those first few weeks without her were a blur and when a teacher asked me how I was, instead of what the correct answer was, I was relieved. Today I ask about lives more than content.
When I remember being cast out from the popular girls one day and hugged the next, I’m able to recall the up and down emotions of a girl trying to find true friendship. Today my heart tugs for the girl on the outskirts of the group.
Remembering the sanctuary of a good book, being taken to another world, on the really rough days of adolescence allows me to connect to books in ways that will impact students today.
I think back to the thick embarrassment that colored my cheeks when an upper-level college biology professor told me, You’re dumb as that shelf of rocks.The alligator tears streaming down my face as I plod back to my room, sobs escaping hours after it happened, devastation as I continue the class, unable to get the grade I wanted, makes me a stronger assessor of writing today.
Looking back through the glasses of experience to my youth gives me a glimpse into the life of a girl who wanted to change the world and was finding her voice. I remember and write these memories because the pieces of my existence make me who I am. Remembering then helps me make sense of today. Taking the time to write it down helps me mold the memory and, in a sense, mold my life into one that does change the world.