When I was little, my mother used to take me with her when she ran errands, and on the way home, we always stopped at the local library. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the musty rooms, hear the creaking of the wooden floors, and the faint whispers of patrons recommending their favorite books, or getting information from the librarian who smelled like apples. It was the one place I can remember at a very young age that my mother would let me "go off" and sit in the children's corner... surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of books. I loved the way the binders of the books crackled as you opened them. It was the one place in the world I was allowed to be "indulgent"... sometimes checking out a stack of books that I could barely see over as I walked out the door. When I got home, I would devour them... touching the soft paper, turning the pages one by one until I was drifted off into a land of fairy tales and dragons.
OH the ADVENTURES the characters had! They lived a far more exciting life than I did... or so I thought. I was just a simple farm girl. Nothing exciting ever happened around here.... it never dawned on me that I could have adventures and write about them too... until I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder. I first met Laura when she lived in her Little House in the Big Woods... I followed her to the Prairie, and to Plum Creek. She amazed me. She enthralled me. She mystified me. I loved her. I loved her dearly. And she was just an ordinary girl... like me... who had adventures.. and wrote about them. I wanted to BE just like her.. someday, people will read about ME.
I would fantasize about crossing the big prairies out west in a covered wagon, living in the woods, and living in a simpler time. For a girl who grew up on the coast of Maine on a 100 acre agricultural farm, the prairie wasn't too far a stretch of my imagination... but the woods mystified me. To smell pine trees as they gently swayed to and fro in the evening breezes, to listen to hoot owls sing lonesome mono-toned melodies, to watch squirrels play, chipmunks cause mischief and other woodland creatures scamper about .. was a dream to me.
Cecilia would tout.. "This is garbage! You are just a boring person who works 80 hours a week, eats, sleeps, cleans the house, pays the bills and goes to bed." Eventually, I packed up my diaries in a box.. and stopped writing. I told myself that one day, I will have adventures, and when I do.. I will write about them. Until then, no one needs to read about my mundane and ordinary life.
“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder
As I sat cross legged on the floor of my new apartment with boxes stacked all around me, I began unpacking all my beloved books. One by one, their cracked covers and dog-earred pages greeted me as I pulled them out of the box, and placed them on their new shelf - their new home, where they would live with me and keep me company during the next chapter of my life. At the very bottom of the box, I pulled out a half a dozen leather books... I cracked one open. Recognizing the teenager's bubbly script.. I sat and read her story... for hours. As night drew on, I turned the last page, and was disappointed to see the story ended in 1998, the year after she had gotten married and started her high stress corporate job. I closed the leather cover, wrapped the leather cord carefully around the button closure... and wept.
I marveled at what I just read - the characters were amazing. Some were strong, some were funny, some were loving.. and yes, as in every good story there were some villians. OH the adventures this girl had! And this girl was ME. Those characters are some of my friends who aren't even on this earth anymore. Without my journals, I would have forgotten the words that my best friend Andy said to me the night my dog Daisy died... or how my boyfriend in high school asked me out on our first date.. or how head over heels in love I was when I first met my husband. I would have forgotten... what a pity had I not written it down. I mourned the fact that I lost a decade of my life by not preserving it. At the time, I didn't find it interesting enough to preserve.. and now, I would give anything to go back and remember.
I no longer dream about being Laura Ingalls Wilder, living her adventures, and writing about them. No, instead, I live my adventures... even the small and what seemingly feels mundane... and I write about them. Maybe one day you will walk into a library, pull down a book, and feel the delight as the binding crackles open... or maybe one day you will download a new title onto your Kindle or e-reader, anxious to be swept away for a while into a new place, be challenged to think new thoughts, or be inspired to try new things... and maybe, one day, you will read about me,
and my little adventures and my little dogs .. my little life .. in the big woods.
A girl's gotta dream...
Paradise is here, Paradise is now... Paradise is having adventures..
and writing about them.