Yesterday I read my freshly written story about quitting orchestra to the Monroeville Library Life Writers group I meet with twice a month. I love reading to groups, no matter who wrote the story. My third first grade teacher (I had four. We moved a lot that year) had the advanced reading group “read with expression”, and I was hooked for life. I flatter myself by thinking I’m taking on the voice of the authors, reading as they hear their own work in their minds.

Anyway, I read my story, giving it the drama I heard as I wrote. They liked it. And they were keenly aware that this segment was ripped from the middle of a longer story thread. They want to hear the rest, the beginning and end. They picked up on my despair and sense of betrayal and helplessness. They understood my stubbornness.

I was happy with the story to begin with, and the feedback that others heard what I wanted them to hear was made it even better. It is a bit of a tender story, with admissions that I lied to my parents, that I was too stubborn to admit a mistake, that … lots of things. Even though all that is in my past, and I long ago made peace with it, there is still something affirming about declaring it all in public and being accepted, of having others realize that yes, I was so very young, grappling with life and trying to find my way through the woods without a clear map.

How odd. I just realized that I’m beginning to look at my fledgling self with the same sort of distance I view my granddaughters. I’m cheering myself on, and giving myself pep talks. And at the same time, I can step back into that little girl and be there again, be her again, in a way I never could with my granddaughters. How many parallel universes can one person inhabit? How many realities can we hold in tandem?