I was digging through boxes in our attic tonight looking for an old toy I wanted to show Camille when I found something unexpected. As soon as I opened the box and saw the familiar hot pink notebook with wavy white lines (totally ’80s style), I knew what was inside. A great treasure, yet simultaneously a source of embarrassment. I cracked open the battered notebook with a mixture of delight and anxiety.
It was the first and only chapter book I ever wrote and finished. If I remember correctly, I wrote it in the 5th grade, typing it out on our new computer at home. Looking at the print on the old, brittle pages, I can almost still hear our dot matrix printer dutifully committing my words to paper.
I’m proud of my 5th grade self for writing a book, all 55 typed pages. But oh to read the chapters! Each sentence makes me laugh and cringe. The world of a 5th grader, at least this 5th grader, was so much smaller and simpler. I almost can’t decide if I even want to share any of this, or if I want to hide it away in a box again rather than judge it with my 32-year-old eyes.
First of all, I didn’t even know how to spell my main character’s name. Her name was Teresa. There are variations to be sure, like Theresa, but not Tarica, which is how I spelled it. Tarica Moscow.
Here’s how it begins:
It was the last day of school and Tarica Moscow ran home and shot through the front screen door into the kitchen. “I’m home mom. What’s for dinner? I’m starved!” yelled Tarica.
I introduced the first bit of drama before we were even off the first page, with Tarica’s mom announcing that they were moving to a relative’s house in Alaska because they needed a bigger house with room for a new baby brother on the way. Tarica’s first thoughts were for her dogs who were not “made for snow.” The mother tells her the dogs have to be sold, but she is not unsympathetic.
After 15 minutes, her mom came in. “How about if we get you a pack, a whole pack of Siberian Huskies and a trainer along with a sled?”
Because that’s how things work, right? So they put an ad in the paper to sell the dogs for $125. When a nice couple comes to buy them, they are so excited to discover that the dogs already have their shots, they decide to pay $200 just to show their enthusiasm. Again, because that’s how things work. In your imagination. When you are 9 or 10 years old. And you are me.
In the attic tonight, I also opened another box to find a journal with two hand-written essays from college. It was fun to read some of my writing from a much different time, and one essay about horses was particularly touching. Still probably a little naive, but then again, that’s me. Some things don’t ever change.