I wish I had kept a diary my whole life. I have written in scattered journals for a week or so at a time, but nothing consistent and nothing that really captured the moments in my life that are getting harder and harder to remember. My fortieth birthday is next year, and so last winter I wrote a “40 by 40” list of 40 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 40. One of them was to keep a journal. So I started using this beautiful leather-bound journal I got from a friend and once a week I jotted down how I was doing on my list items. Then it was once a month or so. Although now I couldn’t tell you when I last wrote in it.
But one good thing about having been a writer all my life is that I have captured some of my life events in the stories that I’ve told. Recently I was cleaning out a drawer in my office and came across old poems that I had written 10 or more years ago. They give me a glimpse into my past but they are also cryptic. Why did I say what I did? What is it that I was really thinking at the time that made me feel this way? The ideas seemed so important at the time and are lost to me now.
I have written various books, from the nonfiction puzzle book Badger Brain Teasers to the children’s book Solar System Forecast to my novel published on kindle The Gathering Storm. I have also written a sequel to The Gathering Storm that still needs to be edited and then published. And in between those two I wrote another unrelated novel that is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written, though it needs a lot of editing before I submit it for publication.
But the first book I wrote from beginning to end almost no one has ever read. It’s a travelogue about two trips I took in 2005. I recently started reading it over again and editing it. As my first full-length book, it is in need of much more editing than anything I’ve written so far and will require a couple passes at it. But one of the things I like so much about it is rediscovering moments I had with my family that I had completely forgotten about. The book is basically a journal of the summer of 2005, both the thrilling and the heartbreaking.
So, as an example of a snippet of my life that I had completely forgotten until I edited my travelogue, I present to you a scene from the book featuring my children, Kaden (who was 4 at the time) and Lucy (who had just turned 2).
Kaden took over the reins that night and told his own bedtime story. His traveling companions on this trip were now his traveling partners in a rocket ship to the planets. He started at the sun and worked his way outward, naming every planet in order and relating facts about each of them. “Grandma liked Jupiter best because of the storm called the Great Red Spot.” He even remembered to mention the asteroid belt in the right location and Sedna, “discovered in November 2003 and farther out than Pluto.” This was when it first hit me just how fascinated he was by space.
After the trip he would continue to learn about the planets, checking out a book on a different planet every couple days when we went to the library. He would sit right down in the aisle and read them to himself, then at home he would quiz me to see if I knew what the names of the planets’ moons were. I had to start reading them with him so he wouldn’t catch me with a puzzled look on my face. Soon the different colored toy balls in our house became planets. And somehow Lucy’s favorite became Uranus. Only to Lucy, it was Myranus. Not Your Anus, as she apparently thought, but Myranus.
We would ask the kids what their favorite planet was. Kaden’s would change by the day, but Lucy’s was always Myranus. Kaden even tried to correct her.
“Lucy, it’s not Myranus. It’s yuh, yuh, yuh, yuh YOUR Ranus. Can you say that?” he would instruct her.
“No! Lucy’s Ranus!” she would respond.
A couple months later after a story time at the library, Lucy was playing with toys the instructor set out. She was playing with a toy that required her to manipulate different buttons to pop open the lids where Disney characters appeared. She was not acquainted with Disney characters, so I pointed them out to her.
“There’s Mickey Mouse. There’s Minnie Mouse. That one’s Donald Duck. There’s Goofy. And that one’s Pluto.”
“HEY!” Lucy shouted. “WHERE’S MYRANUS?”
Kaden was the solar system that year for Halloween. Fortunately, Lucy was just a princess.