Sunday, September 11, 2011

Little Kathy Kill-Joy

The year was 1978. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was out on the playground jumping rope with some other fourth grade girls when little Kathy Kill-Joy raced up with her nose held high. “Mr. Ravenport wants to see you.” She waggled her head as she spun on her heel and skipped away.

I’m sure I blinked. Several times. What could Mr. Ravenport possibly want with me?! I wondered as I started toward him. Sure, I could be chatty, but this was recess, I thought the words over and over as I trudged across the lengthening play yard. Tipping my head, I sported my best lopsided grin. “You wanted to see me, Mr. Ravenport?”
He scanned just above my head to smile at the group of girls that had followed me. “Yes, Diana,” he began, “I want to talk to you about something.” He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and directed me toward a bench. I scooted up on the hard, wooden planks. “Sweetheart … I, uhhhhh … I just thought you should know that … well … some of the other children are talking.”

“Talking? About what?!” My brain felt just as wrinkled as my forehead.
He shook his head and sighed. “Honey, they’re talking about the fact that you still believe in Santa Claus.”

Blink. Blink, blink. “Still??” I asked what I believed was a very logical follow-up question.
He pressed his lips together and shook his head a second time. “Diana,” he narrowed his eyes, “haven’t your parents told you that … there’s no such thing as Santa Claus?!”

The last part of his question rattled around my brain for a second, a minute—forever.

Yep. I’ll never forget that day. It will forever be etched in my psyche. I’d like to point out that I harbor no ill feelings toward Mr. Ravenport despite the fact that he dropped his little bombshell on me in the fourth grade. He was a good teacher, and eventually when I became a teacher, we ended up working together for a few years before he retired. I had many opportunities but never once mentioned the incident to him. Mainly because I was sure he wouldn’t remember it, but even if he did I was also sure his response would be that he was just trying to protect me.

But what does all this have to do with my journey to becoming a published author? Well, anyone who writes knows that, good and bad, our life experiences are what help to shape us as writers. Even with my lack of experience in this business, I know that. No, my point is more subtle. There was a reason why I didn’t want to let go of the idea of Santa Claus as a child, and it’s the same reason why as an adult I find myself wanting to believe in the Loch Ness monster, Big Foot, Hobbits, and Dobby the house elf. The same reason why, at age 42, I find myself fascinated by stories of ghosts, reincarnation, e.s.p., and astral projection. The same reason why, as a writer, I choose to believe that I never write alone.
Visit my computer room any night around 10PM, and I guarantee you’ll find my muse hovering just above my head. I agree to work diligently on improving my writing skills, and she agrees to help me find my scenes. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My question is: What if?? And more importantly: Why not?!
Why do the Kathy Kill-Joy’s and Bobby Burst-Your-Bubble’s of the world take issue with my choice to believe in something greater than me?! Why must they pounce on me with their demystifying tirades using phrases like: That’s nonsense! or Don’t be ridiculous! I live a completely stable life, I assure you. Soccer mom, mother-of-two, faithful wife, teacher, believer in God ... I respectfully accept their views.
Sigh.

Why, why, why can’t they respect mine?