There was a package from someone—someone my mom knew, from Argentina probably. I didn’t remember who it was, but I saw the brown, paper box there. My mother opened it, de-coating the prize inside. She pulled out the treasure—it was a blue CD with a drawing of some elvish city built on what looked like a mountain—turned upside down—ascending into sky.
16. Sometimes, I feel frustrated with my writing. I text my best friend and send him portions of my book, and he comments. My book always evolves with me—when I was 12, it was about 12-year-old things: adventures and wonder and insecurity. When I grew older, it became about finding yourself in the midst of all the temptation and voices around you—it was fragmented. I was asking questions about the nature of love itself. The Wise Man had to remind me that I was the Super Love Man and that love involved pain. Now, my book is about friendship.
Immediately, I popped in the disc and grabbed my dancing ribbons from the closet—they were actually my sisters, but I was the youngest dancer in the house, so naturally I stole them whenever I wanted to. One was pink, the other a light shade of blue. I waved them in the sky in front of me, as a song played from the new CD: “The Queen of Iowa” by Andrew Peterson. I was mesmerized immediately—the music was strange, and as I was only five, I thought it was talking about a different world: the Queen of Eyeworld. Perhaps, somewhere, maybe in Pennsylvania, there was a man with an eye that was actually a world of microscopic creatures?
10. We were visiting my sister’s friends in Canada, and we stopped for a short ride to the a thousand islands. It was beautiful—There were tall castles standing on those islands. Not much room for more. But I had never seen a castle before—and something deep inside told me I had to write about them. I couldn’t let them die in memory. So I started writing. I wrote allegory at first—something about Esther. Something very similar to, though not at all as good, as what I was reading. Then I wrote other things too. A ten-year-old’s version of sci-fi. Realism. I always wrote poetry. But that day, when we were riding between the islands, I stared at the greenness and the sky and those tall buildings, with stories in my head.
I spun and spun in a flurry of ribbons and bounced up and down with all my 5-year-old energy. I was already out of breath, but I wanted to hear the end of this. This Queen: she must be tall and beautiful. And she began it—from then on, all the time, I was playing in a world of immense imagination that I wouldn’t give up for the real world. I was the Super Love Man. My stuffed animal dog that I squished to death a million times was the Super Love Dog. We fought for justice. We had great adventures. I had an imaginary wife. And I so wished that my animals would come alive, even though somehow, they were alive to me. I gave Brownie, my stuffed dog, away because I was afraid I was making an idol of him.
12. I was 12 before I got the opportunity. I was mad. I had been sledding—no. I had been falling, trying to sled with the big kids, and I was frustrated. I went into my sister’s room and talked to her and her husband. There was no one who could understand me. I was alone in the world, a brave soul between childhood and adulthood. I didn’t understand about being a teenager. I didn’t see that in a moment I would be talking about a world I had created when I was 5 that I had tried to let go but couldn’t. I talked about giants and when my wife had died and I had re-married. I talked about my childhood inside my childhood—I had been an orphan taken in finally by the family of my first wife: Wendy, named after the restaurant. It was her restaurant.
My brother-in-law listened. He was a writer. He said he would help me write a book.