Reviewing my notes for the Young Chronicles section of this blog reminds me of how little I had a sense of who I was as a young man. More to the point, it makes me realize how much I remain the same person. My sense of self lost in mist.
I am a writer. I know that. I’ve been writing for 37 years – novel after screenplay after novel – but remain unpublished. I’ve also taught for 22 years and enjoyed that. But I feel more the actor on that stage. I do not belong there, as administrations remind me again and again.
10,000 miles and 110 different rides later, I can’t say I found anything much but laziness and fear. Not to say that I didn’t try. I stayed at Cavendish Beach in Prince Edward Island, buying enough peanut butter, jam, bread and juice for three days and thinking, “Okay, I’m going to really dig into self-reflection now.”
But I didn’t. I just read, wrote nonsense and walked around, counting down until I could eat another sandwich and have another juice. I was marking time, nothing more.
This blog has been effective at turning over the rocks from my childhood, dreams and half-realized works. The Young Chronicles in particular has been telling as it reveals my lack of identity; I distinctly remember having clarity when I was eight years old and then none on my hitchhiking trip eleven years later.
I was always on edge, unsure of where I was, scared to camp alone, scared on the side of the road, scared of riding in stranger’s cars. I wanted to be somewhere else and, when I got there, somewhere else again.
“My mother cried when she saw that story. I remember looking at the picture of your house. It was dark behind the trees. I didn’t understand.”“No.” Dee traced her finger on the swirling lines of the granite. “You didn’t read about that.”
“I remember my mother talking about it at my uncle’s, standing by the fireplace. I was looking into the fire, watching the logs move forward and fall into the ashes.” “My aunt told everyone about your father crashing his motorcycle, and they were talking about you. These people were all above me, adults talking like they knew things. That was the moment when I knew they didn’t. They knew nothing. They were scared. They just said these things that filled the air, that it was tragic and you were poor girl and there was nothing anyone could have done. And I looked at this fireplace and was suddenly terrified. I had felt like I was safe, that the fireplace meant something, the food on the table, the glasses in their hands, but it meant nothing. Everything was nothing. Nothing was nothing. It wasn’t just a word. It was all I knew.”