So, this is a bit of a cop-out and update. I promise another better post is in the works.
Anyway, I’ve been writing every day this year again and also submitting more of my stuff to contests. I still haven’t, you know, actually won anything, but there’s been a little bit of encouragement. Or things that I’m going to interpret as encouragement anyway. I submitted three stories to contests for Glimmer Train which is a national literary magazine. Of the three two were named finalists (no winners in the crowd, though). Then in December I submitted a story to the Nick Adams Short Story Contest and it was named one of four finalists (again not the winner or honorable mention). That’s still kind of exciting. In a very sort of limited way. The point is that I’m still trying to write, and maybe some day I’ll actually have success.
The other “interesting” part of spring break so far: I decided it was time for me to see if one really could go home again. So I drove to Nappanee. Well, I missed the exit at first, but I figured it out when I got into Michigan. Ha. Just kidding… Or am I? Anyway, back to Nappanee. I don’t know what I expected but here is a snippet of my internal monologue:
Well, here I am in Nappanee. What’s that buggy doing there? Oh right, Amish. La la la, there’s another church. And another church. And another church. Okay, there are those trees… when did they get taller than me? Ah, our old house. HEY WHO CHOPPED DOWN THE BUSH THAT CUT UP MY FACE? I HATED THAT BUSH! IF ANYONE WAS GOING TO CHOP IT DOWN IT WAS GOING TO BE ME! ALSO WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BACK ACRE? OKAY, THEIR BACK ACRE, BUT STILL.
We used to have these saplings planted in the back acre. And I used to go there to listen to the red-wing blackbirds and talk to the saplings so they’d grow bigger. And one time we buried a vole back there. And it was where I went when I wanted to be alone. And now there’s a pony living there. I guess I’m not that mad.
Then I saw our first house. The house I lived in from age three through age ten. Talk about an impressionable age. And there used to be this weird garden area out front made from logs, and we called it Mongoose Mountain because someone said if you looked close enough you could see a mongoose poke it’s head out. It took me a long time to realize that mongooses (mongeese?) don’t live on this continent. But I used to have adventures out there with Sarah and our stuffed animals all the time. It was fantastic, and there were these little purple flowers that looked like grapes. And after we moved they got rid of Mongoose Mountain. Now it’s just a boring front yard and no one can ever have adventures there ever again.
But I pressed on. I visited my elementary school and middle school and the old Nappanee Missionary Church and Northwood High School and the nature center and the Public Library where I basically was raised. And, yeah, every place was a little different and, because I’m actively participating in creating a idealized past, a little worse than what I remembered.
And that’s when I realized that it honestly doesn’t matter what these places are like now or how they’ve been desecrated. I’ve got the real places locked away in my head just waiting to jump out and paint the landscape to another short story. (See how I brought the two seemingly unrelated strands of this post together there? Art.) So the landmarks of my childhood will never be lost. I can still share them with the world through my writing. I guess I really should have figured that one out sooner.
Clearly spring break is starting well.