Partly from nostalgia for a more youthful me and partly from bemusement at having arrived at the age of 69, I tried to remember what marked each of the years of my life ending in the number nine in terms of my writing.
Age 9 – It was the year and month of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I didn’t really understand what was going on. All I knew was that my mother was stockpiling canned goods for some dire emergency that would require us to eat canned brown bread, which itself sounded disastrous and life imperiling. I remember the relief in the household when the crisis passed. We never had to eat canned brown bread though only later did I realize that it and the other canned goods would have been toast in a nuclear strike. So, of course, would we have been. I referenced this in my recent book Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories.
Age 19 – The year of my first boyfriend. Not the disaster of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but a disaster, nonetheless. I was naïve, inexperienced, trusting, and lacking in self-esteem. He was self-involved, less than honest, and deceptively appealing. A terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad relationship. I wrote a story about this. It involved insects.
Age 29 –Two years married, a bachelor’s degree in zoology (don’t ask me why), a master’s degree in education, and a one-year stint as an ESL teacher, I had no idea what to do with my life career-wise. What did I know? What was my skill set? What was my potential? With no immediate or apparent answers, I enrolled in a two-year graphic arts program at a community college, because, hey, I liked to draw, so why not. I did good but uninspiring work, but I lacked real talent. I was still ten years away from understanding where my actual ability lay.
Age 39 -This is the year I decided to become a writer. Having received a master’s degree in public administration (yes, another program, another degree) several years earlier, I embarked on what turned out to be a thirty-year career in public service as a project manager. I wrote in the evenings after the kids were in bed, in the bleachers as they swam or played basketball or did gymnastics, and on the bus to and from work.
Age 49 – My 40s was the frenzied decade as I squeezed writing into job, household, and family tasks. Toward the end of it, my blood pressure soared to artery-busting numbers. I’d been writing for almost ten years. Yoga and meds saved me to write in the decades ahead.
Age 59 – Being on the threshold of sixty was when I started to feel that I was really on the far side of middle age. The bright side was that retirement from my job was on the not-so-far horizon. The even brighter side was that my first book When the de la Cruz Family Danced had been published the year before.
Age 69 – Being here makes me realize how quickly seventy can turn into eighty. The years ahead are far fewer than the years behind me. Time for writing more stories is limited. But my three books were published within a span of ten years, so here’s to adding three more books in the next ten.