I was 14 years old and in love with Peach Harper, a divinely beautiful blonde with blue eyes and golden skin. I obsessed over how to express my undying love for her and managed to convince her to come to a tiny log cabin I had built. (This is all true.)
I had lied to get her out there, telling her that I secretly wanted to be her, a painfully stupid ruse. I wanted to kiss her, and that was it. And maybe touch her golden skin and float off into Nirvana, if possible. Anyway, she was actually the one who asked me if I wanted to kiss her. I closed my eyes and leaned into her and kissed her…somewhere on the chin.
My mother chose that moment to arrive in her green tattered bathrobe and escort Peach away. I blubbered and gestured stupidly, realizing the glittering moment had passed. I had completely panicked and missed those velvety lips.
Everything went downhill from there. Peach met another boy who she brought to my party and went off into the woods to make out. I offered my hand to her when she came back and pushed her down the hill. I was furious at her betrayal – even if the truth was that she had wanted to kiss me and I had fucked all of that up.
I invested everything in Peach, had written letter after letter over an entire year and even bought her a Hotel California T-shirt on her birthday. And when the moment came, I was an abject failure. I cannot let that die. This might explain my habit to hide in my words and obfuscate my life. I am afraid to expose myself for the loser that I am. Oh, Peach, where are you now?
The premise of the blog is trite and gimmicky, and became so monstrously successful that it attracted hundreds of thousands of followers (NYT included), led to a book deal and then a the film which grossed $140 million. And that does irritate the hell out of me.
It is true that I can meander and have only recently found my Julia (the writing process), but I have always been true and raw and given everything I can think of, including first-person accounts of Hurricane Sandy, the Covid Pandemic and my sad lost childhood.
It’s not that I want attention (not like Amy Adams anyway), but more that I thought there would be something more at this point, something that might give all of these posts some meaning beyond filling the void.
Writing builds character. Or is it the other way around? The sad thing is that too many characters are caricatures that fulfil an odd addiction of an audience to do as predicted, to make everyone satisfied in knowing what is done next.
The core of real character is outside the details and patterns we project. Characters are inconsistent. They must be. They must be what is not expected. (And then not.) That is how we behave, what we need to understand our traumatized self.
As predictable as we might think people are, we aren’t. And if we are, that is death. A character needs to be nebulous. It is in that that a story spirals light.
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.
I remember when we bounced in the big chair to The Partridge Family and K-Tel’s Fantastic 22. And I remember when we threw the little metal Santa Claus too high and it smashed through the window and we all ran. There were the trips to the cottage, the puzzles, the rain, the boat trips across the lake.
I remember your pained expressions too, you not wanting to be there, anywhere but with your dumb siblings, away with the crowd, all the excitement and things like that. And I remember not liking you so much for any of that. But it’s just kid’s stuff now, right? We move on, yes? I mean, if you hold things too tight, they drive right into you and there’s nothing left, just petty agendas, seeing everything in the world, except where you came from. And that just goes on until you get to the end and then you wonder what happened.