These are very, very, VERY general directions, you understand. Also, this trip will take years. Decades, even. But it’s totally worth it – even the bad parts. And oddly enough, this is something I’d been thinking a little bit about already, as one of the many people I spoke with last night at my book signing asked if I’d been anywhere else, aside from my hometown and my adopted hometown.
So, kind woman, if you’re reading this, I hope you enjoy the book you bought from me and I hope this answers your question. 🙂
1. Start at the Grundy Hospital. Cry, scream, bawl, but also be cute enough to make those two big people take you home with them. They look nice.
2. Follow the big people to Reinbeck. Grow up a little, gain a sister, make some friends.
3. Refuse to leave home when the rest of the family wants you to go with them after the woman dies. Insist on staying with the man who brought you home from the hospital. Make more friends, who help you out when things get tough (and they get tough a lot). Never give up.
back to Grundy with the woman’s big sister. Stay there for half of eighth grade. Fight a lot, because you’re thirteen and you know everything, darn it. Also, because Days of Our Lives is way better than Arthur, no matter what your cousin says. Spend the summer at the library reading about Greek mythology in the World Book Encyclopedia.
5. Go back home. Start high school. Have fun, make more friends, act “crazy” by drinking Surge like water and staying up late to write stories with friends and occasionally drive around town with older friends who have driver’s licenses. Get asked to prom as a freshman. Become a major band geek.
6. Move across town temporarily while the man goes to rehab again. Develop a huge crush on the new band teacher at the beginning of junior year. Move back home. Act “crazy” some more by going roller skating with friends and staying out till midnight (and sometimes later) to chat with the skating rink owner and friends. Get left at prom when your date tells you he thinks you’re destined to be together and you disagree. Spend last two hours of dance looking for him before getting a ride home with friends, only to discover he called the man and said you left him. And then the fight started…
7. Move back across town when the man starts drinking again. Get an after-school job in the kitchen at the nursing home down the street. Quit job because you don’t have enough time to yourself. Move to the Brook to stay with boyfriend and his parents. Win award for being major band geek. Graduate high school.
8. Leave for college. Enjoy living on campus, but go home every weekend. Get pregnant. Get engaged. Get married. Laugh when you tell your science professor your husband’s name and he doesn’t believe you. Move into crappy apartment in Lincoln. Move out of crappy apartment and into a small house down the street. Withdraw from school at year end. Get a job at your hometown paper with your best friend. Have a blast getting paid to write.
9. Move to a farm outside the Brook. Have a baby. Inquire about returning to work, only to find you’ve been replaced. Go back to school. Get a new job in the Brook at the nursing home. Get another job running movies at the theater downtown. Graduate college, get a job in Marshalltown, and get out of the house regularly. Rejoice.
10. Get a new (better) job in Eldora. Make friends with a lovely woman from Steamboat Rock. Get divorced. Move into a very nice apartment in the Brook. Join a book club. Go back to church. Sign up for online dating website. Meet one very nice man and a couple of not-so-nice men. Embarrass yourself horribly on your first date. Learn to play cards on your third.
11. Move back to hometown and in with very nice man from online dating site. Get engaged. Buy new house across town. Move in the week before your wedding. Do load of laundry on first night in new house, only to have washer stop working in the middle of the cycle. Go on honeymoon and come back to find house has been broken into. Thank God that nothing was stolen. Promptly change the locks and begin remodeling.
12. Have a baby! Then have another one. Then question your sanity. Return to work part-time. Fight post-partum depression. Dive headlong into story revisions. Publish a book. Query another one. Revise some more.
13. Write a letter to your teenage self, loudly admonishing her for thinking she was far too busy and had no time to herself. Tell her what her life will be like in fifteen years while trying not to laugh at how “busy” she thinks she is.
14. Buy the farm! No, not like that. List house in town and cry with every lowball offer you get. Move into the country (but don’t eat a lot of peaches). Start a cat collection. Lose part of a book collection. Publish a second book. Rewrite another. Try to figure out how in the world two of your children are nearly teenagers. Feel old. Start a new job. Feel older.
15. Lather, rinse, repeat. Enjoy the country life!
So what about you – if you were to give someone even the most general directions to your life, what would they look like?
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