Friday, July 20, 2007

Floating down the lazy river with my cousin, Julie, she lying on a neon green "floatie", me on neon pink, our daughters and cousins, four 13-year-olds, floated too. The best part of the 4th of July WUG reunion each year is the time for good 1:1 talks, and nothing provides that opportunity better than a long float on a hot day.

As the lovely adolescent girls twirled around on their floaties, their long, lean, straight spines revealed themselves.

"Hey! You girls are in luck," I shouted from my floatie, I'm offering free scoliosis checks today!"

One by one I ordered each girl to bend over, fingers touching the other end of their floaties, giving me full view of each and every vertebrae, and how it lined up perfectly to the ones adjacent.

"You all check out. No 'C' curves or 'S' curves for you!"

They all looked at me like I was crazy. Scoliosis is not a word in their vocabulary. They do not have friends in back braces. And obviously, they aren't reading enough Judy Blume!

Neither Julie nor I had that problem. We had Margaret informing us about breasts and periods. We had Karen giving us insights into divorce. Deenie taught us the realities of a curved spine and the impact on a girls' self-esteem. Katherine taught us about first love and the loss of virginity.

I don't know what I would have done without Judy Blume in those years. Almost like a curse, my life followed the course of these characters. One by one I experienced each of these life-changing events. Fortunately, I'd been prepared, as much as a fictional character can adequately prepare you for anything.

"There's a new book out," Julie informed me right after the on-the-spot scoliosis check, Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume. It's an anthology of young adult writers and how they were influenced by Judy Blume growing up."

So, being me, I went to the local library and put my name on the long, long, list, totally willing to wait as long as it took to be my turn. NOT! I ordered that puppy from Amazon and had it in my hands within 48 hours.

As I read through the collection, I am overwhelmed with the wanting to read all those old books again. And, to my horror, I realize there is one that I missed somehow, Summer Sisters. That won't do. I'm sure I'll find some aspects of the books dated, but not the essence. Fortunately, I need only go into the basement to retrieve those dusty favorites. Through all the ages and stages of my life, through all the moves, those books have never been more than 2-stories away from me, and their lessons, much, much closer.


Prof. Boots said...

Remind me to to include this in WL...memoir is time travel, we find ourselves in our past pulling up the bits and pieces of what shaped us and all of this is a gift of detail which we will incorporate into the tale we tell.

Jerri said...

Great writing, Ms. Link. I've often envied those who had Judy Blume to guide them. I'm just old enough to have had to fumble my way along without her.

Here's to floaties and girl time!

Kim said...

We must, we must, we must increase our bust!

I can't say this one totally worked for me, but I don't think I have ever wept quite the way I did during my first reading of Blubber. I lived for Judy Blume growing up, and had the honor of working with her on the reissue of some of her adult paperbacks. She was an absolute delight.

CP, your wonderful writing does something very similar: grabs our attention, pulls us deep into your stories, makes us laugh, and touches our heart, all with such honesty about what it means to be human.

riversgrace said...

So there with all that. We used to read her by flashlight in tents on hot summer nights out back. In forts. In closets. The hiding place made it all the better.

kario said...

Kim stole my line! Love Judy Blume, love that this book exists, and I can't wait to order it myself. I swear, Amazon ought to be paying you a commission for every book you inspire me to buy...

Michelle O'Neil said...

I've got them all too. Right on the shelf over there.

LOVE Judy Blume.

LIVED for her books growing up.

Kim, I'm jealous.

Sue said...

Oh, Carrie! This is wonderful.

And to Kim -- thanks for the memory!!! My friend Nancy and I did it all, including setting a date on April 30th of our fifth grade year for getting our first bra (she chickened out; I got my mother to get one for me accompanied by much embarrassment).

Much love to you Carrie. (Saw Mr. Darling yesterday & he sends his love, too, btw.)

How was reentry/deentry (or whatever you call it)?

Deb said...

While I'm in the same generation as Jerri and relied on Nancy Drew for my wisdom, your connection to Judy Bloom's characters made me laugh and cry at the same time. What would we have done without the comforting, kind wisdom of books?

Mols said...


No need to post this but not long ago at work there was a CFO named Ralph, and well, he was just like "Ralph" in a Judy Blume book. I think possibly one woman I worked with at the time even remembered Judy Blume, I loved her growing up, and was a bit saddened taht not more of the women I worked with remembered "Ralph".

Terry Whitaker said...

I adore gave me thrills and chills.