Warning: this one’s personal, mostly.
It’s as if time had collapsed.
Thirty years ago, I was finishing up 10th grade at this strange school, where my cousin and I were both on staff at its literary magazine, Argus. We also lived in the same two-family house in the Bronx, and I was the classic younger cousin, anxious — not so much to compete, but to prove that I was as smart, good, et cetera as she was. I even graduated a year earlier than I had to, in a fruitless effort to catch up.
Fast-forward 15 years, and we couldn’t be more different. I was working at CCCO, and stayed with her the week the short-lived but influential STAAMP was launched in 1997; I was entirely focused on GI rights (and still under the delusion that eventually I’d be “discovered” for my long klugey novels). She was a tenured professor of linguistics, a leader in her sub-field, on leave for year to work at the Washington Zoo. A few years later, when I was teaching composition as a crazy adjunct at CUNY, I thought – she was the one who’d done it right.
Fast-forward again, and look at her website (the first link). Like me, she’s thrown it all over (including the zoo) “to concentrate on writing.” Like me, she works off her own specialization (animals for her, soldiers for me) while moving in the wilds of local reporting, as well as those fiction dreams.
Did those brothers, Americo and Benito, actually birth the same person in alternate universes? Actually, we’re quite different in many ways, though I bet we still speak at the same pace.
What it does demonstrate: this wordsmithing bug is an even stranger illness than I thought. It can twist your life back to where it began, almost.