Do you ever look at a photo and wish you could do a Mary Poppins and pop into the picture for a visit? I’d love to do that with this photo. I’ve always been drawn the villages built of stone and that are venerable with age, places filled with the ghosts of people who used to live there. You can walk the streets and feel them, can almost see past people moving around you.
I love to write/read time travel and I wonder if this is at least partly why. That sense of history in places that aren’t painfully new. That rich feeling of lives lived well or not well, but lived. Places where there is a very thin line between the past and the present, with the future full of possibilities because we are so anchored in the past.
This time I’ve spent at home has been like that, too. I keep bumping into young me, and because old me is an author, I probably spend too much time examining us both.
I don’t think I was that deep as a kid. I played hard, was mostly happy, and when I got tired I read voraciously. But I lived pretty much in the moment. I didn’t think that much about my future until I entered the painful teen years and then I mostly just hoped to a) survive and b) not be that, not be thirteen or the rest ever again. I wanted to grow up, preferably yesterday.
I probably hid inside books until I realized that I needed to live my life and that no one really “grows up,” in the sense that it is a place we arrive at. It is a journey. It’s a process (sometimes painful, sometimes wonderful) that happens from going forward, from living, from letting Life Happen. I’m still very much a work-in-progress even though I’m old as dirt, or well seasoned. For some reason, that image, and being home again, have connected my present with my past. And I don’t mind.
So, if you could, would you jump into a photo and spend a little time? Do you ever bump into your younger self? How does it feel?
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P.S. One of the places brimming with lives–old AND new–is New Orleans. It’s been fun to set stories there. Do Wah Diddy Die was my first book set in the Big Easy.