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Remembering who you are

When I was 15, I holed up with my best friend Suzie, from across the street, to dream about what it would be like when we were finally able to live our real lives – when turning18 would give us the magical power to be and do anything we wanted.

Of course, that was a lifetime away then – three whole years – but we had ideas. Big ideas. Mainly they involved:

  • moving to California,

  • meeting rock stars,

  • marrying rock stars,

  • living in luxury on the ocean,

  • and, finally, surviving lots of drama.

We had to be realistic, after all.

Our process was simple. We'd give my younger sister fair warning that as of noon, Suzie and I would be taking over the bedroom my sister and I shared, and there was nothing she could do about it. Once we had staked our territory, we'd haul out the manual typewriter, and I'd start writing up the amazing adventures Suzie and I spent hours – and, eventually, days and weeks and months – conjuring.

After each session, Suzie would read aloud what we had come up with. And then we'd either gasp in excitement about what awaited us. Or cry our eyes out. As noted, drama was key, so tragedy and heartbreak were always around the corner.

Most amazing to me now, we didn't just think about this stuff, we wrote it down. By the end of the summer, we had produced 181 typed, double-spaced pages. No kidding.

I'm thinking about this because my memoir, It's Hard Being You, A Primer on Being Happy Anyway, was just named a 2023 Michigan Notable Book. It took me three years to write, in part because my career has been in news writing, and books seemed like another skill altogether. In fact, the reporter writing about the award quoted me as saying: “I didn’t think I was capable of writing a book.”

Apparently, I had forgotten who I was.

I have moved my teenage opus from place to place over many decades, but only now have I started transcribing it in digital form. (I'm on page 5 and Suzie and I have already moved and met the loves of our lives, so things happen fast in this world...)

“Why?” my husband asked, bewildered, when I told him I was retyping the 181 pages.

At first I could only shrug.

But now I think I want to get reacquainted with the 15-year-old me – the girl who sat down to write one summer day and just kept working. With a friend to guard her dreams.


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