I’m writing from my parents’ house. The forecast calls for 97 degrees today, with high humidity. A stroll from car to grocery store soaks my clothing. I would do horrible things for an iced tea or a blizzard.
Coming from my cool mountaintop to a place now impossible to inhabit without air conditioning, I remind myself that Dad is eighty six, and every birthday is a gift from God. I stop grumbling and celebrate.
This is a place of tradition and memory. I remember childhood summers, when it was safe to leave windows open at night. Before green lawns, too many golf courses, and a swimming pool in the backyard of each new home. Before Mom and Dad could afford to run the air conditioner.
I would lie in bed, listening to a brown clock radio the size of a small work of fiction, and look at the stars through mimosa fronds. Cicadas were backup singers for Karen Carpenter, Carole King, and James Taylor. I would marvel at how immense the world must be (mine was limited to a southern swath of the United States), and wonder what my future held.
Songs like Marrakech Express by Crosby, Stills, and Nash transported me to faraway places. Where was Marrakech? (And I still don’t fully understand that song, but that’s true of a number of 70’s tunes.) The next summer morning, I would maybe make my weekly trip to the library to check out seven books (all they would allow), swim in my uncle’s pool across the street — the only one in the neighborhood, or go to church. Read and draw in the back yard under a gigantic elm tree.
Radio and summer and books. What a team!
I’ll return home tomorrow to do another live radio interview about writing When Camels Fly. I think of my dreams as a little girl on the poor side of town. Writing fiction was at the top of the list. Ahead of marrying or having kids. Ahead of everything else. I wanted to write stories.
To paraphrase the late Karen Carpenter, it did take some time this time.