Friday, April 5, 2013

Summer of '84

Think of palm trees, sea shells, pina coladas, and endless summer days.  Remember when you were about 19, hanging out at the beach or the lake with friends, throwing a frisbee or just laying on a towel?  Somewhere nearby, that familiar summer song comes on the radio.  Those are the memories I'm pulling out of my own past.
A straw market sat in the city center.  Wandering around it made me feel so tropical.  I wanted to buy everything there.  I wanted to live at the straw market.  It was filled with hats and wind chimes and baskets and pictures and all sorts of Bahamian looking art.  We visited the place several times, buying cheap souvenirs.  In the time I was in Freeport we went through so many gift shops they became a blur.  But one thing stands out in my mind.  Blonde hair.  I would swear I saw her again through the window as I browsed that nautical antique shop.  She was sitting on a bench under a mass of overhanging wisteria.  It was down a cobblestone street, part of the old colonial section of Freeport.  A large willow tree overhung a small nook with flowers and quaint architecture, and she was like some wild orchid that had sprung up among the clay pots and driftwood used for d√©cor.  I left the shop and followed the maze of old streets around until I found that spot.  She was gone.
Summer of '84.  That's the name of the book I just wrote.  I wrote it in a conversational style and just let the words flow, without trying to make it a literary masterpiece.  It's the shortest book I've ever written.  At just over 20,000 words it barely qualifies as a novella.  But in those 50 odd pages I put down the memories of one of the best summers of my life.  It has romance, it has adventure, some would say it even has a moral.  It's the story of traveling, being free, and ending up in the Bahamas for a month.

What to do with it, that's the question.  It's not something I would ever want my wife to read.  Actually, it's not something I would want most people to read.  In fact, I can think of several people who would be upset if they found themselves portrayed in my little book.

But it doesn't matter.  Writing it was therapeutic.  Without a doubt, it was the most fun I've had writing in a long time.

Perhaps that's what many of us need.  Take something from your own past, maybe a bad breakup or a crazy summer or something weird and wonderful that happened as a child.  Write it down.  Write it as if you're living it again.  Then read it over and smile.

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