I found it on the bottom shelf of one of my bookcases. I knew exactly what it was, just from touching the narrow spine.
And when I opened it up, the days came rushing back. We were all writing our innermost thoughts on the endpapers of the Olympic Cougars eighth grade yearbook.
I now live three thousand miles away, but it doesn't seem like such a distance. That time seems as if it was three weeks ago. And my nerdy, silver-braces-wearing, wants-so-desperately-to-be-popular thirteen-year-old life drifts back to me, etched into the light blue inside cover, superimposed with a faint shadow of Mount Rainier.
I really did think I was on the brink of cool. But when I read the messages to my eighth grade self, I see how far away that brink really was.
Some of my favorites:
"...we had fun these 2 years trying & trying for cheer (leader). But at least we tried. Have a great summer."
"... I think you are a swell person even if you did get straight A's in Algebra. See you maybe this summer."
"...It's been fun having you in band. See ya next year."
"...Keep playing the clarinet. See you this summer, probably most of the time on Sundays."
But my favorite one was:
"...Have fun this summer. Don't get into to(o) much trouble."
Sure, because there was a ton of trouble you could get into in the spare time not taken up by playing the clarinet or doing Advanced Algebra problems or chatting up a boy or two at a thoroughly supervised Sunday School activity?
So why would I write for this unsettling, uncertain time? Why would I write for middle-graders? I get to bring it all back, if I want to. I can relive it or completely change it. I can switch up the heroes and villains.