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Imagination

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There were tears in my eyes six years ago when I couldn’t write down my stories, and there are tears now, because I can finally speak what I write.

We moved to our house in San Diego when I was seven. My three younger brothers all shared the giant bedroom at the back. There was no door separating their room and my tiny adjoining one. Nothing was private those first few years, when we were still too young to grasp the meaning of the word.

At night, after Papa read us a goodnight story by candlelight, after we were kissed goodnight and tucked in to our beds, I listened for the squeak of the bunk bed and the sound of soft footsteps across the carpet. When three small bodies crossed the doorway and headed for my small twin bed, I stretched out as much as possible so there wouldn’t be any space for them to sit. That tactic never deterred them; my brothers would sit on my legs, or lay on their stomachs, always finding a way to be comfortable. Then, like always, I would start where I’d left off the night before. I told stories of mice families living in their den in the walls of a coffee shop, or of a mermaid and a fish and their underwater adventures. No detail was left out. And I remembered everything. I told these stories over and over, a little bit each night until the boys started to fall asleep.

When I was twelve, I had my own room, and had long since stopped telling those late-night stories. I would sit at my desk and write in my diary. I loved to read, and often tried to imitate the writing styles of my favorite authors. One day, I tried to write down my stories. “The Mice in the Coffee Shop” and “The Grand Adventures of China Pepper the Mermaid” failed miserably. Nothing I wrote was like I remembered. There were no gasps of fear and little hands clutching my various limbs. No little boys giggling, no dead weight on my legs. My throat wasn’t sore from talking for so long…all I could feel were the words falling apart on the yellow paper in front of me. I lay my head in my hands and sobbed until tears began to slip down my arms and pool around my elbows.

Over the years, I developed as a writer and a thinker. I still read and imitated my favorite writers, but I became my own writer as well. I forgot about the tears that I shed over long-lost childhood imaginations. There were triumphs enough that the failures didn’t affect me so drastically, like they once did. Then, my junior year in high school, I couldn’t tell stories anymore. All I could do was write about what mattered to me. Somehow, the words to tell these things to people weren’t there anymore. And I cried again, the same way, at the same desk. Only this time, I was in Portland and five years older.

Last summer, I found my voice again, the night before my eighteenth birthday. It wasn’t a parade and marching band type moment, but I knew it just the same. I grew up that night while I was writing in my journal. I knew I could walk down the stairs and out the door and carry on an intelligent, heated conversation with anyone I wanted. There were no tears, just a relief that I could create and speak up masterfully the way I did when I was seven. I took a deep breath, and knew that I could still write.





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Austin P. said...
Apr. 26, 2009 at 8:02 pm
This is very good. I greatly enjoyed reading it.
 
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