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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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24 Comments


Guest
Jan 28, 2023

I love this, Sharon. I wonder what you’ll decide to do with these stories once retyped. The basis for another book? A streaming series? Or file away for a future review? Maybe you’ll move to California after all, with your rock-star writer husband. I hope reacquainting with your 15-year-old self is eye-opening and satisfying.


Melissa Kaplan

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Oh, this is wonderful, Sharon. (And I get the transcribing; that sounds like something I'd do.) Those words are such a part of our lives along with the memories that go along with compiling them. I love that you were a writer even then! And so many of those dreams realized in one way or another -- maybe not MOVING to California, but with two kids in the area, no shortage of visits; you've met rock stars and parented on (and personally, I think John has rock star status, too!). No ocean luxury but Lake Huron is pretty glorious and no one can say you haven't survived plenty of drama. How many of us are that spot on? Well done!…

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yremes
yremes
Jan 17, 2023
Replying to

I love your insights, Jeanie, and I think they're true! We're blessed. ❤️

Sharon

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Guest
Jan 15, 2023

My teenage self wrote in a diary with a tiny lock and key. I shudder to think where it ended up and who might have read it. So much teenage angst!!

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yremes
yremes
Jan 19, 2023
Replying to

Oh, I remember those lock-and-jet diaries! I hope they all end up in the land of single socks, where no one every sees them again! haha But good to remember.

Sharon

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Guest
Jan 13, 2023

This is a fascinating story! I really like it. I have struggled to finish a book for twenty years and you inspire me to keep it up.

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yremes
yremes
Jan 13, 2023
Replying to

I’ll be rooting for you! If you can just persevere, you end up with something of yourself, preserved. Good luck!

Sharon

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Sharon Emery
Sharon Emery
Jan 13, 2023

I think I'll look for the story I wrote about meeting the Beatles, written when I was 13 or 14. And blush as I read it. Great post, Sharon!

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Sharon Emery
Sharon Emery
Jan 13, 2023
Replying to

That was ambiguous, wasn't it? Only met them in my dreams.

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