Friday, January 15, 2010

My Obi-Wan Kenobi Experience

Luke Skywalker: He claims to be the property of an Obi-Wan Kenobi. Is he a relative of yours? Do you know what he's talking about?

Obi-Wan: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan... Now, that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time.

When you live in a small community and it happens to be your hometown, you constantly bump up against your past. You run into former classmates at the grocery store, your kids go to school in some of the same buildings you did, and there are few places where someone doesn't walk up to you and say "oh, aren't you April? I remember you when you were a little girl."

You walk around in the present, but the past is always just right over there. Sometimes, a ghost memory will trip you up (figuratively speaking, that is) in the nicest of ways. That's what happened to me the other evening in the Buehler's parking lot. (The very same day, in fact, on which I had my moment of realization that supporting local and regional businesses meant more than just shopping the downtown stores for the holidays.)

I was headed into the store and a woman I know somewhat better than an acquaintance and not yet quite as well as a friend was headed to her car. As we started to pass, both of us smiling and nodding to one another, Lisa flagged me over to talk.

Lisa and my lives rarely intersect. Our children are of different ages, so we never crossed paths in the school system. Lisa used to sell baked goods at the Farmers Market, as well as her fiber goods, so sometimes I would see her there. She is the troop leader of the Girl Scout troop to which Liz still belongs. Running through the list of why Lisa wanted to talk to me, I concluded it had to do with Girl Scouts and I was needed to relay a message to Warren.

Lisa, grinning broadly, said "I was cleaning out my basement last night and came across something that involves you!"

This was not quite what I was expecting her to say. It was clear from the suppressed mirth in her face that whatever she knew, I would also enjoy knowing.

"Well, what?"

"National Council of Teachers of English."



"Where were you then?"


We both started laughing.

Lisa then told me she had discovered the directory of all high school seniors who received the NCTE Achievement Award in Writing for the class year 1974. She was one of them. On a whim, Lisa thought she would look at all the Ohio winners to see if any names sounded familiar.

Her first surprise was that there was someone from Delaware. Her second surprise was she knew the student.

It was me.

Telling me all this, Lisa had this huge smile on her face. So did I, remembering that long ago girl I was.

I was still smiling as I walked away.

That was my Obi-Wan experience and a powerful one it was. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a high school student who wrote her way into a national honor. No one had tracked me by following that path for a long time.

Lately I have thought a lot about writing and about being a writer. It is grist for another post another day.

In the meantime, I think I will go dust off my light saber.

1 comment:

Donna Meyer said...

April - your blog is an amazing compellation of works about your life (which is pretty amazing). I can visualize a series of essays - the type of stuff you currently write, wrapped up in a book entitled Small Moments of Great Reward and your happy photo on the flyleaf. It would be a bestseller, and more importantly, it would inspire women who have been through some of the same situations and challenges and let them know they can come out on the other side, not unscathed, but grateful for another chance at life...and love. You have been writing your book all along. And I would read it even if I didn't know you.