Thank goodness for parents. While you're off finding yourself and sipping apple tea in Turkey, they store all your crap. They even store crap you didn't ask them to, like your diaries from seventh grade that you would have burned if you'd known they still existed. Thank goodness you weren't allowed within reach of matches back then. Because if you just wait long enough, you see those old writings in a new light and, just like the Eighties, they may even become cool again.
Thank goodness I came home to Washington with a relatively empty suitcase, because I'll be dragging it back to Auckland bursting with such old writing. There are some gems, let me tell you: a detailed description of my Neapolitan host mom as seen through my sixteen-year-old eyes, a copy of a letter sent back home to the first boy I kissed, a short story about my first heartbreak by a teenage mafioso with sampaku eyes.
But it ain't all pretty. There's the dorky poem titled "Washington Roebling and the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge". There's the dialogue-rich story about two washerwomen speaking in what appears to be a Cockney accent. The short story called "Blue (like water)" which begins "There was once a girl with golden hair that lived alone on the beach in a thatch hut that smelled of salt." Stuff I would still burn in the fireplace today if it weren't for the fact that it's far too warm here for a fire.
Besides, it would take all afternoon to incinerate possibly the worst offender, an untitled novella beginning with the ill-boding words "Part I, Chapter I, New York, March 1936". I have no recollection of writing these 145 pages, but judging from the well-linked cursive in blue and black ink (with surprisingly very little crossing out for a first draft), I estimate I was twelve or thirteen when I wrote it. The remarkable thing is that even back then I set the scene, developed the main character (Scarlett Brandon) and used dialogue to drive the plot and build suspense. But it would be dishonest to say that the novel itself is anywhere near good. I will spare you from having to read it all but, somewhat sadistically, I can't help but show you a few passages (with original spelling and punctuation):
p. 1 It was beginning to rain and droplets of water formed on the window, sliding down with ease.
p. 3 [Scarlett's] eyes were large and secret; nobody could see through them, past the adventorous, daring outside into the divine realms of her imagination. Even Taylor didn't understand her when she became moody or pensive, which was not too often.
p. 7 "Just where are we going?" she added after a moment of silence.
"Dinner, my dear," [Taylor] answered.
She stood up straight. "Food? I'll be fat."
p. 36 A few minutes later they were half way through their drink when Scarlett asked to see the entire gardens. [Chase] went up to the waiter. "We'll take this in a doggie bag," he said referring to the drinks.
p. 52 Soon after everyone had left Scarlett and Chase were cleaning up his kitchen. She lifted up a pot and wiped it with a towel and Chase said, "You make great lasagna."
p. 91 Scarlett lay there in her bed, her stomach empty, and being in such an odd mood for an hour she then called Chase but the phone was busy so she sat with the busy signal until Valentino came to the hotel door, looking tall, dark and handsome.
p. 121 Sometimes it was almost too much to bare being with two men, each knowing nothing of one another.
p. 130 She made him feel happy and as he looked into those striking violet eyes that were dimmed so in the soft candlelight, [Valentino] knew that if she didn't decide to stay with him in Italy for a "deeper" affair he'd surely become angry.
p. 142 Glancing over at the fireplace, she saw two tall, silver candlesticks shimming in the moonlight. She shook her head but then smiling reached for one of the heavy candlesticks. With her thin, frail arms she lifted it and struck it down hard on his head. [Valentino] fell lifelessly onto the floor and when she looked back at him, rose colored blood flowed from his head and his staring eyes began to roll up into his head.
Oh, thank goodness that was all just fiction. And I think everyone around me can be grateful I don't write fiction anymore.