Moving onward in my life to other events or moments that I think shaped me into the writer I am today.
I don’t do well in person. People tend to make me nervous. On line or on the phone or even in a big group setting, I do all right. But the one and one stuff, wow, could use a little work. I spent a little time wondering about this and how I ended up so socially awkward. Here are a few ideas on that front.
We moved a lot when I was a kid. No, I mean A LOT. From as early as I can remember we moved every single year. One year, when I was in the second grade we moved twice. It wasn’t always far and there was even a time or two that we stayed within the same school district. We always moved though. I stopped trying to make friends after the few times. What was the point, we were just going to move in a few months anyway, why bother? I grew quiet and introspective. I spent more time with books. I would spend lots of weekends with my grandpa instead of with friends. He would make three stops each Friday after I was dropped off for the weekend.
The first stop was to Children’s Palace. This was THE toy store of the world. It was in the shape of a castle and was HUGE. I loved that place. It is no longer in business, sadly. Toys R Us killed it. Each time we went to the Palace, I was allowed to pick out any one item. Nothing too expensive and nothing to loud, but any one thing I could get. I liked cap guns for a while and I remember getting packs and packs of the caps to pop with or without the guns. A hammer worked really well for this. Just sayin.
The next stop would be to the Half Priced Book Store. Here I could get anything I wanted as long as it was a book. Oh the hours I could spend in that store. I found V.C. Andrews within the stacks one summer. Stephen King was soon there after. Once I was through all his books I moved on to Dean Koonz an then Anne Rice. No one said a word about my book choices. Since I had reading issues for quite a while, they were happy to see me reading.
The third stop was then to McDonalds. Every Friday I would get a Chicken Nugget Happy Meal. That was back when it was real’ish meat. Not the pink slime they now use.
So how did these three stops affect me? One, I spent way too much time with my grandpa and not with my peers. Oh I wouldn’t change it for the world as I have more good memories of that wonderful man than I do of any other one person throughout my childhood.
I have also come to realize the trips to children’s palace were a way to make me feel better about being with my grandpa instead of home or with my sister at my father’s house. It didn’t actually bother me though. I was happy to be with Grandpa. I don’t remember the why of it now. My sister went for the weekend to my father’s and I went for the weekend with my grandpa. I have a vague feeling of being unwanted, but nothing really concrete. So we will just say that my father wasn’t all that keen on me when I was a kid and move on from there. The toys were gifts of reparations. I didn’t know it at the time, but as an adult and parent of my own children, I get it. The McDonalds, that was just a perk and an easy way to feed a kid.
All those things are great by themselves, except for one thing. I was allowed to grow further within myself during that time. My grandpa didn’t mind if I spent all weekend reading a book and only coming out when it was time to eat. He would take me fishing and while fishing I would be reading about blood sucking vampires or incest and child abuse, or monsters and mayhem, for hours on end. I completely escaped my world for days at a time. Didn’t matter that I was under 10 when I started reading some of those books. I was a good and easy kid while I was reading.
I think this is one of the main reasons I am socially awkward today. I would much rather be within the pages of a good story than doing anything else. Whether I am reading it or writing it doesn’t matter. I much prefer the story, over real life. This is only one reason why.
Next week we move on to Sunbury, Ohio, which was the last move my family ever made. It also brings us to the hell that was my junior high and high school years. I have tried to block it out, but…at least it makes great fodder for my stories. How many people have I killed of within the pages of my writing? I’ll never tell.