On Sunday I took the girls down to a writer friend’s house in Orange. It was way hell and gone, over near Riverside, and took over an hour to get to. Jules slept and V watched TV and I stared at the highway streaming ahead of me, and thought about my life.
It was nice to be with my friends, all of them writers. Samantha Dunn, Jillian Lauren and Mark Sarvas. All of our kids are the same age and they ran around the yard with a pig and a horse and some dogs, while we drank wine and talked writing, and it was warm and sunny, and even though Jules knocked over a wine glass and Vera was afraid of all the animals, for just a little while I stopped thinking about all the things I have to think about these days.
All my life I’ve wanted to be a writer. Seriously. Ever since I was like, 9 and really understood that to be an option. Like really understood it, not the way Vera thinks she understands it now. I was a voracious reader by then, devouring anything my bought for me, and then eventually even my Dad’s Dean Koontz books, just because I needed something more.
I was already writing by then too. Dumb stories about lizards, and a couple years later stories about girls who ran away with their dogs, thinly veiled autobiographies of a life desired. After that poems, for years poems. Long, sad, terrible poems about loneliness and heartbreak. Christina Haag once wrote that she thinks she was born nostalgic. I think the same of myself. It was almost like I was primed for tragedy; I was so ready to write about it.
I think I was fifteen when I knew that there was no turning back, that I was going to be a writer. I had to be. And so I just gave myself over to it then, really let myself believe and dream and desire that life. I read about other writers all the time, about their lives and deaths, and in general I read dozens of books, as many as I could. I was the girl who read every book on the suggested summer reading list, not just the required five.
Then when I was in my twenties and publishing a book seemed like something I might really pull off one day, I then let myself dream of afternoons just like Sunday. I dreamed of being friends with real writers, about getting together to drink wine and talk about our next books, bitching about the changing face of publishing, bemoaning our failures and laughing and toasting to our successes.
And you know what?
It was all that. And even better than I imagined.
It’s better because it’s real. And it’s better too, because we have little kids running around, and that was never part of what I pictured, but it’s so cool that they’re there. I think about when they’re grown up one day and how they’ll tell stories about the other writers’ kids they were friends with and how we all sat around drinking and telling stories while they were completely unaware of how cool it all was. I love that.
But most of all, I just love the camaraderie, the shared sense of knowing this world, of being friends with people who grew up feeling the same way I did about books and words and life.