Some people say you can never go back. I can’t imagine why anybody would want to anyway. Still, there are ties in our lives that will bind us forever to our pasts, and I just knew I could never completely sever mine. I was twelve when I moved to that dreadful little town. Out of all the places we could have moved to, my parents chose an obscure town tucked in the foothills of Virginia. It wasn’t really a bad town. It just wasn’t me. I had dreamt of a city to live in, or at least a suburb where I could peddle my bike up and down the road and go for walks around the neighborhood with my friends, up and down the sidewalk. What did I get? A house five miles outside of a town that seemed no bigger to me than a small village as seen only on TV… you know, the weird freaky towns on the Syfy network. I was born and raised in California, only to experience the biggest culture shock of my entire existence. We got rid of my bike. There would be no smooth surfaces for riding where we moved. And forget sidewalks. When the roads aren’t even paved, what’s the use of a sidewalk? Nothing but gravel and steep hills from that point on. How was I going to cope?
This comes from the opening (after my prologue- or disclaimer) of my first book about Drew Hotchner (Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages), a girl who just happens to be a version of me, and so as my husband and I drove towards Front Royal, Virginia on our vacation a bit over a week ago, these were the lines running through my head.
Writing these books means reliving my past to some degree. Sure, the books are fictitious, yet based on some truth, some actual people, and some real places and events.
There must have been something about that little store and bad weather and adventure, because once we got out of there with our Fudge Rounds and sodas, ominous clouds formed on the horizon. Nothing was going to stop us though. We were having a picnic! So onward we continued. “So, what do we do if it rains?” Emily asked us. “It won’t rain. And if it does, so what? We’ll just have to get wet,” Adrienne teased her sister. Shortly after, we found a secluded place under the trees, on an empty lot by the river. We spread our food around and began snacking. Sitting on a fallen tree limb, I felt something wet hit my nose. “Uh, I think it’s starting to sprinkle.” “Yeah, I felt it too,” Emily agreed. “A little bit of drizzle won’t hurt you,” Adrienne replied. “No, but a whole bunch of drizzle might,” I yelled as the rain suddenly tore through the sky and began to fall in sheets. The tree covering was of little help, as the rain only hit harder once it had a chance to collect on one leaf before it dropped in heaps. Frantically, we picked up all we could and started running. Adrienne was wearing her prized leather jacket and didn’t want it to get ruined in the rain, so she turned it inside out and wore it home like that. As it turned out, we later discovered that we had left behind the crackers nobody wanted, and every time we visited that spot thereafter, there they were, though the box faded over time from exposure to the weather. It became a silly inside joke. -Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages
Another discovery I made on this trip was that where there had once only been five houses on my old road, with only three of them actually inhabited by humans, there is now a total of ten houses, and all but one appear to be lived in. The most dilapidated of all was finally gone.
My first encounter happened while walking to the bus stop one morning. Since it was fall and an early morning, fog hung suspended in the air along and across the road. Two rarely visited and quite run down summer homes sat on my road, their dead eyes of windows staring at one another from either side. One of these houses, the faded and sickly yellow one, probably should have been condemned as I’m sure other than the rodents and snakes that lived in it, the shell of a house was unsafe for much else. But on this morning a strange creaking sounded from behind the should-be-condemned house, and some angry squirrels chittered and ran in all directions. I heard a slam and saw the shadowy figure of a boy slinking up the hill from the rear of the house, wading through the thick fog. He reached the edge of the road just as I was passing that spot. He was about a foot shorter than me, and though I’m bad at guessing ages, I figured he was a sixth grader or so. He avoided eye contact with me, picked up his Star Trek decorated backbag and began to practically goose step down the road in front of me. What the heck had this weird kid been doing in that house? And why was his hair cut like Spock’s? -Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh-meat Year