Friday, December 7, 2012

from the archives: the book that started it all

originally posted on my former blog, independent study:  7/28/09

I suppose it would make sense that the person who inspired me, who woke me up from the string of professions every little kid wants to be (lady police officer being the very first, when I was in pre-school), would be someone whose only published book was also a diary.

I remember there was this scene from My So-Called Life where her social studies teacher asks something like what might be a word to describe Anne Frank, and Angela, looking all dreamy-eyed, murmurs, "Lucky."



Brian: Because it's written in the first person.

Mayhew: Thank you. Does it say, 'She was forced to go into hiding'? Somebody else besides Brian... Brian?

Brian: No.

Mayhew: No, she says, 'I', 'I was forced to go into hiding.' [the buzzing of a fluorescent light increases as it comes into view] It's called the first person, okay? This will be on the quiz. So how would you describe Anne Frank?

Angela: [staring at the light, unconciously speaks outloud] Lucky.

Mayhew: Is that supposed to be funny, Angela? How on earth could you make a statement like that? Hmm? [Jordan comes into class late, Angela watches him behind the teacher] Anne Frank perished in a concentration camp. Anne Frank is a tragic figure. How could Anne Frank be lucky?

Angela: I don't know. 'Cause she was trapped in an attic for three years with this guy she really liked? [glances at Sharon behind her, Bell]

When I was a kid, I used to think lucky too, but not for those reasons. I was envious because Anne Frank's writing was so good for her age, and because her words, her book became symbolic of a moment in history, would be read on by so many generations. Because I wanted to write something so important it would be published and exist forever too.

It makes sense that The Book That Started It All (and by "it," I mean so many things, but most notably, that itch to write) doubled as a peek into the life of the author. I'm a voyeur, it is true. When we walk the dogs in the evening, I gaze in at open curtained rooms, the soft yellow glow of a living room at night, the man in an easy chair, the woman sponging at the sink, the patter of children's feet, the news flickering at the window. What will become of the receipts, the yellowing love letters, the photo albums? What choices are being made to lead us down these roads we take? Who holds our hand as we fall asleep? What's beating in those hearts inside?

Lucky: Yes. I am.

No comments: