Professor Anne and I are done with school for the summer and are relaxing at my mom's house in West Virginia for a couple of weeks before heading back to Cockroachlandia.
The other night we walked down the block to my grandparents' house, and my grandparents started telling stories about their high school and college years. I've heard them talk a little bit before about how they met and what their school experience was like, but never in so much detail. It was really wonderful.
I haven't yet had the courage to write about a bygone era. I guess I'm too afraid I'll "get it wrong." I don't know why it's so consistently surprising to me to discover that people behaved the same way, wanted the same things, and had the same senses of humor "back in the day" as they do now. Although I will say my grandpa has pulled some pranks that I wouldn't even consider. Replacing the town bully's RC Cola with motor oil? Isn't that...dangerous? Grandpa just chuckles.
The man is hardcore.
Last night my sister brought a giant photo album up from the basement and we looked at pictures of our parents when they were first married. We joked that we weren't really sure we liked this whole idea that they'd had a life before we came along. But it was fun to try to piece that life together. What the heck were they doing in Kennebunk, Maine? Why are they hanging out with a collie? Why doesn't dad's hair change from 1980 onward?
This week has made me really want to write something set during a time before I existed. I get so caught up in what's going on right now in my world that I sometimes forget that people I love have had experiences I'll never be part of, and that those experiences still affect them, shape them, and bring them joy or pain or both. It gets my imagination all revved up hearing their stories and looking at photographs.
Of course I love the stories and photos for more than just their potential to serve as writing inspiration.
But my writer-mind can't help taking notes.