My dad is driving.
We’ve just left the mall in New Jersey and are headed back home down the interstate. I’m holding four brand-new books on my lap, re-reading each’s back cover, thumbing through the pages and chapters, trying to decide which one I want to start later. There’s a bag of Auntie Anne’s pretzels next to me, and periodically, I reach inside and twist off another piece of dough.
These are how days off from middle school are spent: we walk around the mall for a few hours, I stop by Border’s or Walden’s and then lose myself in a world that is not my own. One where everything makes sense. One where I feel safe. One where the characters are my friends.
One that I keep thinking about long after the story ends.
These days are some of my fondest in my mind’s catalogue of memories. These are days that I will look back on as an adolescent and pinpoint as one of the more pivotal moments in my life.
The days when a shift occurred and I first realized that I didn’t just want to read stories, but that I wanted to write them, too.
When I graduate from college at twenty-two with an English degree and a dream of writing best-selling novels, I will smile at the thought of those middle school afternoons spent reading and where my love affair with words began.