I am here today to tell a little story. It’s a short little story, but it’s a story that caused me immense satisfaction and an incredible wonderment in relation to the brain and how it works.
So, sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy the ride.
The other day I found myself at the Library. That’s not something unusual as it was one of my typical bi-monthly visits. I went in, returned my books, and walked out with a bagful of new books to read.
Now, setting the scene a little, my Library’s entrance is situated on main street of the small population-7,000 town I grew up in. I live a little outside of town and park on a side street on the direct left side of my library and then walk to main street, take a left, and head toward the main entrance.
I’m the type of person who doesn’t drive by street names, but, instead, drives by landmarks. I rarely look at street signs, so instead of telling someone what street to turn on when giving directions, I’m the type of person who will say drive until you come to a river, take a left, continue to drive until you see a church, and then what you’re looking for will be on the left across from a small ice cream shop. So, naturally, I’ve never paid much attention to the street I park on when stopping at the library.
It’s the same street my mom used to park on when I was a child and we’d go to the library.
A little more background on that: I basically lived at the library when I was a child. I participated in their read-a-thons and was always there discovering new books to read (or rereading my favorite series for the third time). The library was a sort of home of mine and I connected deeply with it as a child. It was my favorite thing to do and my favorite place to be. And, we were there a lot. Like a lot a lot.
I know, you’re probably wondering what child wasn’t urged to go to the library, but I was a little Matilda and was there constantly borrowing stacks of books or there reading stacks of books.
Time to flash forward to high school. That’s a big jump, I know, but bear with me.
When I was a junior in high school I started writing the book I’m still working on (I swear this thing is never going to get finished). I’ve changed the name of the town the main character lives in to the real name of the town I grew up in, but it wasn’t originally so.
At first, I wanted to be edgy and cool, spurred on by the fictional town of Forks (yes, I was at a vulnerable age and actually enjoyed Twilight once upon a time – another reason why it’s so insidiously dangerous, but that’s an entirely different story. Maybe we’ll talk about that next time). Anyway, I was starry-eyed for a made-up town that felt like home, but that also felt like there was magic there.
This left me pondering the name for a town deep into the night or early into the hours of morning, whichever you prefer. I spent so long trying to come up with a name, but nothing felt right, nothing felt real, and nothing felt magical. I was a tortured artist even at such a young age. Such a woe-is-me moment.
Then, one day, I wrote something down, and I didn’t hate it. I looked at it typed on the screen and looking at it felt like coming home. It was a strange sensation that I can still remember. The name was perfect and it was brilliant and it was everything I had been searching for. There it was. The answer, blinking at me in the computer light, sounding of home and magic:
That was the town my main character was going to have spent many years of her life in. That was going to be her home.
And it was, for many years. It was her home filled with magic and heartbreak and everything you can possibly imagine until last November. Last November is when I decided to make the town more familiar and easier to write about. This book doesn’t have much magic in it, but instead focusses more on the real, and the main character is so familiar to me that I felt like she deserved my actual home town to call her own. It felt more natural, it felt more right. So, I let it change and have been okay with that change.
I’m still okay with that change.
Which, you’re probably wondering why I need to be okay with the change and why I’m talking about a few things that don’t seem to come together. Well, this is that moment they all do, this is the big finale as to why this little personal essay now exists in the vast desert of the internet world.
I was walking out of the library the other day and just happened to look up and catch the street signs in my direct vision. I haven’t looked at those street signs in ages. I know my library is on main street, I know it’s right across from the courthouse, and I know it has a carpet shop across the street, so why should I have any need to look at the street I park on?
Yet, there I was looking at it and there I was reading the name and there I was coming to a complete halt, finding myself held in place by the weird sensation of discovering something to startling.
There I was standing on the corner of Main and Linden.
You see the connection now, don’t you? All those years of parking on Linden St. and walking from the library with piles of books subconsciously logging in my developing brain where the magic happened. Subconsciously reminding myself that Linden meant home and magic and belonging – that it meant everything it could possibly mean.
And then, still subconsciously, years later remembering that feeling of home and passing that feeling along to my fictional children who needed a place of security, just like the security I found in the solace of the library. Where books were read, worlds were discovered, and magic happened.
It’s strange that I was never quite okay with the way I had spelled Linden, as you may have noticed I stuck with a y instead of the i. Seeing it spelt with an i brought everything full circle and the exact moment I felt the crippling weight of the sensation of coming home. So crippling that I couldn’t move. So crippling that I knew I’d never be the same after such a defining moment in my history.
It may sound strange or exaggerated, but I swear to you every word I’ve written is true. These are the moments that my inner creative child thrives on. She was smiling and so was I while we let the world stand still for a short moment so we could log it in our memory banks to be stored for the next time this new memory will be dredged up. But, for now, it perches in wait.
Will you see a reappearance of the new fateful name of Linden in my current book when I finally finish it and it arrives in bookstores? Maybe. I guess you’ll just have to wait and find out for yourself.
Will this name continue to be as big a part of my writing as it is a part of me now? I don’t think there’s any way it no longer can elude me.
The universe works in strange ways – giving us exactly what we need exactly when we need it. I’ve never felt more on the verge of tears caused by every emotion than I did at that moment standing on that corner, or maybe I have. It’s hard to remember. But, what I do know is that I am thankful for these little moments that remind me why it’s a wonderful thing to still be alive.
In the midst of everything life throws at us and makes us feel, there are small moments like this that cause you to freeze, rooted to the spot of childhood coming full circle with adulthood, overcome by the desperate feeling of being alive and feeling worthy of it.
Well, that’s it. That’s my story. Have you ever had a moment like this? What memories do you have of the library growing up?
Up Tomorrow: Review of Amulet Volume 1 and Volume 2