A blast from the past, and a glimpse into the future

One of the fringe benefits of being a writer is the possibility that someone you went to school with might be browsing in a book store, see your name on a book and say, "Is that the same person I knew from P.S. 19?" A look at the bio inside the cover that names my hometown will confirm their musing, and so will one glance at my author photo, particularly if it shows the my trademark US-map-shaped birthmark on the side of my left eye (with a mole right where Jacksonville, Florida would be, a nice coincidence, given that I lived there for 17 years). Of course, it helps that I write under my maiden name. "Bettye Underwood" would not mean anything to people I knew years ago.

This has happened to me a couple of times in the ten years I've been published. Yesterday I had an e-mail from someone I've known since nursery school (that's what they called pre-K back in 1961), telling me she'd read several of my books and is now reading The People Next Door. She just wanted to tell me how much she enjoys my work and offered encouragement to keep on writing. Encouragement is always a good thing, but it's especially sweet when it comes from someone you know. It's even better to hear that my friend's mom, whom I know, is well and about to celebrate a milestone birthday (so will my own mother, later in the year, except my mom is older). Naturally, I told my friend that she just has to read Once Upon A Project, an especially appropriate choice since we've known each other since we were 4 years old and we turned 50 just about a year ago.

I'm also happy to announce the birth of a healthy niece this morning. I wish we could see her, but since she's in Michigan we'll have to wait 'til next month. Isn't it funny how things work out? My brother-in-law is a first-time dad past 40, my grown stepchildren have a new first cousin, and my husband has a niece who is 20 months younger than his granddaughter. Maybe three or four years from now we'll get both girls to spend a week or two with us. It'll be like summer camp.

Or like nursery school.


Patricia W. said...

It's always fun to reconnect with old classmates. Folks who knew really knew you when...

Congratulations on your new niece!

pjazzypar said...

Congratulations on the new addition to your family. Old friends are really special. I maintain contact with people I went to elementary, junior high and high school. No matter where your restless feet take you, it's always nice to have the home town connection.