Growing up I didn’t fit in, wasn’t one of the cool kids. I was completely certain my birth certificate said I was born on the Island of Misfit Toys from the Christmas show, Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer. Friends, the few that I actually had in grade school, were all card carrying members of the dork and nerd society as well. The fat girl, the tall and lanky one with huge boobs before anyone else even needed to begin considering a bra. Summer time was like an escape for me, no more being picked on and bullied, I was free from that agony for 3 months. We actually had 3 months off back then, but I digress.
I had one sort of friend who loaned me her Nancy Drew books, and Harlequin Romances by the box full. As soon as I was able I would slip out of the front door to my magic kingdom. 7 foot wide and 21 feet long, this was my refuge, my safe place. A wooden porch on the front of our little, wood frame house.
In bare feet, even on the hottest summer day, the surface of the porch felt cool. The boards beneath my feet were painted gray, I am certain from the blemishes under the current layer, there were as many more coats of paint as I was old. A wood railing ran from the yellow shingles of the house to a square, red brick pillar, then from that one across the front of the porch to the next brick pillar. Steps descended to the sidewalk, then another pillar with a railing along the other side and up to the face of the house. My parents bedroom extended over so the ceiling of the porch was wood. Every spring a robin would build a nest on the inside, top corner of the brick pillar, protected from the rain and wind, and if I sat really still she’d come and feed her babies. Sometimes I would climb up on the rail and lean on the pillar by the steps so I could see the babies more clearly.
We lacked central air conditioning, so every window of the house was open on a summer day. Sometimes when sitting in one of the lawn chairs on the porch, in front of the living room window, I could feel the breeze on the back of my neck as it blew through the house. It was there, in that lawn chair, with my feet up on the railing, that I would make my escape. In the pages of one novel after the next, I lived in far away lands being loved, desired and adored by billionaires and princes of make believe kingdoms. Sometimes I was a gorgeous model with long tan legs, a tiny waist and perfect, white teeth, other days I was Nancy Drew, creeping across attics in cute flats and peddle pusher pants, searching with my flashlight for clues to solve a mystery.
For 3 months in the summer of my 12th and 13th years, I was able to be someone amazing and leave the insecurity behind me as I traveled the world through pages in those beloved books. My love of reading and writing was nurtured in that chair, in the shade, with a view of my special little world from our porch.