When I was in first grade, I thought that "elemeno" was an adjective to describe the very special letter "P." I didn't know what "elemeno" meant, and I didn't know why "P" was so special, but I was 6 and there were lots of words I didn't know yet. I was used to that.
I knew how to read, of course. But I can't remember a time when I didn't read whole words. The Alphabet Song was a song to me. I got that it was about letters and letters made words, but it's not like I was singing The Alphabet Song while sight-reading in first grade.
I still remember the feeling of incredible confusion followed by clarity and embarrassment when it all became clear. I was working on an alphabetizing exercise and trying to figure out where to place a word that started with L, M, N, or O, and using The Alphabet Song to help me. I ran through the song several times in my head, then decided to "cheat" by looking up at the alphabet posted above the chalkboard. Lightbulb!
I'm applying for the Summer Writers Institute at Washington University this summer. In Creative NonFiction/Memoir. I'm late to this decision, and late to the application process, though I'm told that the Institute isn't full and they're still accepting applicants. I don't know how hard it is to get in. I do know that my sample piece is very new and very rough. But I really, really want to do this. So maybe they'll want my money enough to take me anyway.
Paul's reading my sample right now. He's laughing aloud and riding some emotional waves, but he's not exactly an objective reader. After all, he's reading something that he actually lived, so he's tapping into memories.
Come to think of it, if I can get him to access his memories, most of which he keeps buried somewhere deep in his subconscious or lower, then perhaps I am doing something right after all.