So, awhile back I wrote a blog about the supernatural aspects of writing. For example, you might be writing about kumquats, a fruit you haven't seen or eaten in years, when out of the blue an old friend sends you a membership to the Kumquat of the Month Club.
Well, it's happened to me again. This time for Sweet Love, my next book, which is about a forty-something woman meeting up with an old crush. Once again my life has imitated my "art." (Hey! I heard you laughing.) That's right, out of nowhere I've made contact with a boy I swore one day I would marry. Granted, I was eight and still believed in mermaids. Also, I'm embarrassed to admit, unicorns.
Not that he had a crush on me. I'm sorry to say that this was entirely a one-way romance on my part, a pathetic schoolgirl fantasy about a boy who probably thought I was a total whack job. But it was a great fantasy and he was a great boy who lived safely far away in the Midwest. You'd understand if you'd grown up in Bethlehem, PA, in the 1970s among the...well, Josh is here so I won't insult him except to say that he was an outstanding exception to the rather depressing rule.
The point is that the relationship was all in my own pre-adolescent mind. However, when I grew up and started meeting real men, I found I was looking someone I dreamed my crush was - a man who was intelligent and funny and athletic and charming and great with children. A man with adorable Midwestern values and, perhaps most importantly, drop-dead sexy. Yes, I'm talking about Charlie, my husband for nineteen years. I really lucked out. Thanks, old crush.
The old crush is long married with a solid family including a son who's about as old as he was when I last saw him. (Does that make sense?) I'm sure we'll never see each other again, but it has been so fun to catch up on line. Ah, the delight of the Internet.
Wish I could say that about some of the other emails I've gotten lately from boys in my past. Yes, most have been innocuous, hey-I-saw-your-book-at-Barnes-and-Noble-and-wondered-if-you-were-that-idiot-girl-in-math-class type. We've traded details about our families and then signed off. Perfectly run of the mill. Some were former BMOCs in college or cool jocks in high school who are now, magically, really sweet. Funny how life can knock even the cockiest off their pedestals.
I was catching up with one old childhood friend, a girl who later became a Presbyterian minister, on a sunny Tuesday morning six Septembers ago. We were happily emailing back and forth about our families and mutual long lost friends when a New York Times alert popped up in my email. A small plane, believed to be a commuter plane, had reportedly flown into the Pentagon. Two minutes later, another plane had flown into the World Trade Center. And then another. "What's happening?" I wrote Connie. "I don't know," she wrote back. "I think I need to pray." That was the last I've ever heard from her.
Then there are the few that deserve their own special category.
For example, here's an excerpt from a guy I'll call Billy Ray. Bill Ray wrote me earlier this month to note that he is now a successful businessman out west with a suburban lifestyle he was "once opposed to living," but that sometimes he lets his mind "wander." One night, after dealing with his last employee, his mind drifted over to me. (Why does this sound like the beginning of a Penthouse Forum letter?) Indulge me while I quote:
What about Sarah? We weren't really good friends. We were acquaintances who happened to have a few classes together. I was the smart partier. A bit different from most partying types as good
grades came easy to me and I would have continued to get good grades if I wasn't bored out of my mind with school.
Sarah, if my few brain cells are functioning correctly, came from a good
family with the right address and hung out with other super good people who
wouldn't be caught dead with somebody as crazy as myself. She talked to me
every now and again. But friends? Wasn't in the stars.
You get the idea, right? Look, I wouldn't be blogging about this except he went on (and on and on and on) to conclude, finally,
I will not lie and tell you that I'm going to run out and read your books. If you wrote a math book, photography book or a book on government or politics, I'd be ordering from Amazon as I write this :-)
My own memories are enough fiction for me :-)
Okay, people, here's a tip. If you're going to write an author and ask them to pull out the yearbook and see if they remember you, please don't end the letter with, "by the way, I won't be buying your crap." Especially since, in this case, I had no clue who this guy was.
Or, as a woman from my past wrote me shortly after my first book was published, "I, too, aspire to be a writer...though not like you."
What did that mean? I have no idea because I've yet to see her name on the shelves.
It's fun, these on line reunions, especially when you have a book due in November and anything, anything is a welcome distraction. It's also nice because there's no face to face. I can still imagine the old crush as the strapping 19-year-old he was when I last saw him, not the forty-something banker he is now. And let's hope he still thinks of me as 18 and not the, er,...Well. We'll keep it at that.
All right. I know I'm not the only one out there who's had this experience. Come on - tell us yours!