I’ve been pretty quiet online, but off-the-blog I’ve been up to stuff. We’ve been needing a spring cleaning for, like, 20 years, and over the last couple we’ve steadily been at it. Clearing stuff out turned into a ritual of sorting the good and bad stuff going back a whole lifetime. What wasn’t carted off or thrown away was redistributed within the family. And while I did that, I began to get rid of all my old story ideas and spin out a new one. An idea that won’t go away.
It’s funny what we dug up, threw away, polished up, or put on display. Many things I’d thought I treasured were sent to Goodwill or the book sale without a second thought. Old boxes of memories from my childhood were thrown open and sorted—much now seemed meaningless and was discarded. There were too many pictures on the walls and they were in the wrong rooms. We rearranged. I realized I’d been using for about ten years a crystal jewelry box shaped like a heart and I’d forgotten where it came from. Why was it in my life? (Turns out it was a gift from a wealthy schoolteacher who knew my mother. She gave it to me when I was 7 and our house was a disaster zone, so it’s a miracle it didn’t get broken.) We must have gotten rid of so many things . . . when I go in my room it looks weirdly empty.
I was completely shocked when I found a frenemy from middle school had actually been a meaningful relationship. I had nothing from the other girls, but several small gifts from her that I now keep safe. What a surprise. And that unknown, rather young uncle on the side. His gifts lurked around the house and we kept finding them. They’re STILL HERE. Turns out he was way more of a factor in our lives than we’d thought. Entertainment underwent a revolution. So much less Jane Austen. So much less Narnia. Sacrilege! Narnia was such a staple in our lives we got duplicates of everything when our parents moved. We couldn’t be trimming down the NARNIA. But we were—except for Prince Caspian. Which is really odd, because I’ve always disliked it. And yes, some of those souvenirs from the European trip 6 years ago are staying because, though flawed, it was an important event. I was surprised by the ones I kept, though.
And while I thought about measuring for a china cabinet (LONG story on that china thing, for another post), a girl with blonde hair, done in spiky tails on both side of her head, and icy green eyes, kept appearing in my mind. A girl who’s good with a rifle and a tomboy about fixing cars, but who has never known her mother. Or anything about her father. But she does have a silly, talkative friend she’s known since they were nine. When this friend takes Blonde-Hair Rifle-Girl to her great-great-great aunt’s diamond jubilee, they run into a cousin who looks like a lady in a 19th century painting. A specific 19th century painting. And then Blonde-Hair has enough adventure to satisfy even a girl who dreams of winning the Daytona 500.
I’ll be back.