Back in 8th grade, on a whim, I tried out—and landed—a role in the school play. When opening night rolled around, I forgot my lines and, worse, waved to my girlfriend Janet Markuson sitting in the front row. I broke character in the first scene of the first act after a week of dress rehearsals in which our drama teacher, Mr. McCloud, made faces, called out our names and performed any manor of antics as a way to steel us against interacting with the audience.
As soon as my hand went up and my fingers wriggled in response to Janet’s covert wave, I could have slapped myself. Now, I realize it was the intimate setting created by the bright lights focused on the stage that made me think there was no one watching our performance except Janet. I couldn’t see beyond the first row.
Sometimes, I feel like this blog is that 8th grade stage all over again. I write. I perform. Every now and then, I wave. But I have no idea who is out there. I have no idea if anyone is reading my words. If anyone is applauding. Booing. Or throwing tomatoes. Are you?
Let me take a page from Hawaiian tradition and introduce myself. I’ll give you an abbreviated version of my genealogy chant.
My family comes from the Midwest, outside St. Louis, Missouri, my father from Washington and my mother from Augusta, to be exact. All sides of the family hail from Germany. All were farmers. All hard-working, hardy stock. I believe my love of reading—and, hence, writing—comes from my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. Her father and her son were known to be voracious readers.
When my parents married, my father’s job took the family to Dallas, Texas, where I was born. Six weeks later, my parents, two brothers and I moved to a suburb of Chicago—an unincorporated area of Glen Ellyn. When I was entering the 8th grade, we packed up and moved to the western suburb of Batavia, and I tried out for Mr. McCloud’s play. I wish I could remember the name of it. But I do remember the orange-colored script, about the size of a thin paperback book. I adored it. Not enough to memorize my lines, though.
After graduating from Batavia High School, I entered the University of Missouri, some eight hours distant, in Columbia, and four years later, graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree.
During college, on spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I met the man who would become my husband, Eric. We married five years later and honeymooned on Kauai. Eleven years after tying the knot, we moved to Kauai, the one and only Hawaiian Island we’d visited 8 or 9 times before moving. That was almost 12 years ago. It seems like yesterday.
This August, my high school graduating class will celebrate the 30th anniversary of our high school graduation. Really? 30 years? Can’t be. There’s something about living in Hawaii, the land of perpetual summer and nine-hour flights to the heartland, that freezes time in my mind. I cannot grasp the reality that I have high school classmates with children in college, getting married and, in some cases, having their own babies. I can’t be that old, can I?
And, now, it’s your turn. Please sit in the front row and let me see who’s out there. Tell me where you’re from. Who your people are. I want to know. In Hawaii, we’d say, “Let’s talk story.” In Augusta, Missouri, my grandmother would say, “Let’s visit.” In the online world, we call it a blog, and we now have a fully functioning—I hope—commenting feature below. Please use it to introduce yourself.