My mother was a cheerleader. Somehow, she's managed to leave out this fascinating tidbit in the telling of her life story.
My dad looked quite dapper in his basketball uniform. He was the cutest boy in his high school class, too.
My dad was one of seven members of the last class to graduate from the high school, which was then consolidated with a bigger school nearby. Dad's class picture hangs on the wall of honor in the town's community center.
I know these things because I visited Mom and Dad's hometown yesterday, gathering research for a story. I also visited a coal mining museum and the general store where my grandfather used to take us kids. A carefully invested dime returned a fortune in penny candy at the general store back then. It's a wonder the man who ran it didn't strangle one of us or my grandfather, considering how many times we changed our minds between paying two cents for a Sugar Daddy or giving up a whole nickel for a box of CrackerJacks. (In later years, he murdered his wife then killed himself. I'm pretty sure we weren't the ones who pushed him over the edge. He hadn't been forced to spend 10 minutes listening to us waver between candy cigarettes and Sugar Babies for years by the time of the unfortunate event.)
Yesterday was a wonderful day -- the kind of day when possibility shimmers in the air, swirled with memory and loss and love and hope. I saw family folks and being with them felt as right as if 30 days had passed rather than 30 years.
After all these years of making a living with and through words, I am not just writing but living as a writer. That shift brings me joys like yesterday. In the next week or two, it's going to bring me a trip to central Michigan, where an archivist has catalogued the extensive correspondence of a carnival showman. Talking to her on the phone yesterday, I made up my mind to pack Paula and hit the road. The stories are there waiting, and I'm a writer.