Monday, August 24, 2009

Memories of Me Monday Part Three

Ok, to recap, here's the Memory Jogger from The Jar: "If you could visit any country overseas, where would you go, and why?"

As I've mentioned, I'm limiting myself (for awhile at least, probably a year) to writing about memories of my childhood only. I remember having only the vaguest interest in visiting a country overseas; I probably didn't know much about any of them yet. I think I may have wanted to go to Ireland because I had some notion that everyone there owned horses, and I had the usual schoolgirl crush on those handsome animals. Other than that, I don't remember any desire to leave the country. I think I may have been too scared. My older brother, Mike, travelled to Japan with his Boy Scout troop when he was twelve. I remember being totally in awe of him, that he was brave enough to go to such an exotic place without our parents! And, if I remember correctly, the boys were parcelled out among host Japanese families so he stayed in the home of complete strangers!

No way would I have had the nerve to do something like that.

However, I did have an ongoing fantasy of being shipwrecked on a deserted island.


It was most likely fueled by the books I read, like "Robinson Crusoe," "The Swiss Family Robinson," "Baby Island," and one of my all-time favorite books, "Island of the Blue Dolphins." All of these books were about people stranded on deserted islands. The last two books were my favorites because the main characters were young girls who used their wits and cunning to survive and thrive. Just the kind of girl I wanted to be, and wasn't.

At that time my family was living in Redondo Beach, California. The summer I was 11 my mom took us five kids, plus several friends and including my best friend, Judy, to the beach almost every weekday while my dad worked. We all got as brown as Indians, rubbed our stomachs raw riding the waves on our canvas surfmats, burned our bare feet on the hot sand, ate tuna sandwiches made with Miracle Whip and my Mom's homemade wheat bread, grapes, red plums, and cookies, and went home every afternoon with sand in our suits, ears, and hair. It was heaven!

Judy and I spent those summer days pretending we were sisters shipwrecked on a deserted island. We stood knee-deep in the waves for hours and made up stories about our adventures. We began writing the stories in notebooks that we bought at the Five and Dime. My stories evolved into my first novel. It was called "Two Girls on an Island," and I illustrated it myself. I can't remember for sure if Judy wrote a novel, too (did you, Judy?), but she probably did.

Writing at our kitchen table, about 1970

That summer marks the beginning my writing life. Over the next 5 or 6 years I filled several notebooks with stories, journal entries, and poems, and I wrote another novel called "Cabin 13." Then when I was 18 and packing to move out of my parent's house, I casually tossed them all in the trash. My mom, who was watching me pack, looked at me with surprise and said, "You may regret that someday."

I was sure then that I wouldn't; that was childish stuff and I was done with it.

She was right.

Although I've filled many a notebook and journal since then, and I expect I'll fill many more, but I'd give a lot to have those first efforts back again.

1 comment:

Judy said...

OH MAN! DID YOU EVER BRING BACK THE MEMORIES FOR ME!!! Those summer days ... those sandwiches ... that bread ... and all those stories!! It was the beginning of my writing career too, though I've never published like you have. (I did write a novel, but I'd never let anyone see it! Hah!) I remember when you told me about tossing your stories - I felt sick at heart for you. I wish I'd been smart enough to make a copy of them. And now I can't even remember where I stashed my own. I sure hope I didn't do the same thing you did. This was a Great Monday Memory, my friend.