Monday, June 13, 2011

Former Selves

Today was strikingly gorgeous, one of those days-without-flaw when its hard to do anything other than bask in the Maker's work.   After a week of stanky moist Washington heat, this morning came crisp and perfect in the 60s.  Skies?  Blue and clear.  Clouds?  Intermittent and puffy as unspun cotton.

With the missus off in El Ay for a few days doing her jet-setting Executive thing, I herded boy number one off to the bus, and then wrangled boy number two to the bus stop, all prepped for Field Day.  From bus stop number two, I took our faithful pup for an hour long walk through the 170+ acres of heavily-wooded county parkland right near our house.  It was, in every way, lovely.

And then I came home, and settled in behind the keyboard, and kept up with a promise I made to my former self earlier this year.

This Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Eleven, I resolved to get a children's novel I wrote back in college into e-publishable form.   It's been a challenging year personally and vocationally, which has occasionally gotten in the way of getting things done.   But once I make a promise, I'll endeavor to keep it.  Even if that's a promise I made to me.

One manuscript remains.  Scanning it?  Too messy.  Even with good OCR,  I'd have to significantly edit it.  So I'm doing it the old fashioned way.  I'm retyping it as time allows.  One page here.  A couple of pages there.

Today, I worked my way through 12 pages of text.   It's a bit odd, like reading an old journal.  Here are these words, this story.  I wrote them.  But the "I" that wrote them was very different.  I was twenty-one.  I was half my age.    I knew far less than I do now.  I was in a long-distance relationship with the woman who would become my wife, in an era that was pre-email.  Pre-Skype.  Pre-anything-but-expensive-long-distance-phone-calls-and-long-handwritten-letters.    This "me" was very different.  I'd never seen a child born, let alone my own sons.  I'd never seen another human being die.   So much life had not yet happened.

Yet this was me.  I feel myself in the words.  They're somehow still mine.  It's my voice.  Different, but still my voice.

Typing it again, as I physically connect with the text by recreating it in the same way I created it, stirs so many memories.  Of being in a computer lab where not a single computer was connected to the internet. Of the feel of 5 1/4 inch floppy disks.  Of walking home to 1508 Grady Avenue in Charlottesville in the early morning after hours of writing, breathing the cool spring air as I walked dead center up the Lawn, alone,  towards the lit Rotunda in the darkness.

Sixteen thousand, five hundred words down.  Another fifteen thousand words to go.