5th grade was a really important year for me, I’m learning. Except I’ve known it. The books I read in 5th grade have stayed with me for a long time. I remember exactly what seat I was sitting in when I read The Bridge to Terabithia. I remember what seat I was sitting in when I read Where the Red Fern Grows. I remember making the diorama for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I do not remember my 5th grade teacher, but, looking at the list of books we were reading, I do think she might’ve been going through some soul searching. And good for me.
There has always been one specific book that settled itself so deep within my soul and yet, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the title or author or any detail google-able enough to light my path. All I could remember was it was about twin brothers and one gets locked in a shed in the backyard of some house and when he comes out, he’s significantly older than his brother. And it has perched itself on the edge of my brain like a dream that slips out of focus as soon as you realize you’re thinking about it. I had spent years looking it up, asking everyone I knew if they had ever heard of it and I ended up with no leads, no one that had ever read such a book, nothing. A ghost book. Maybe it was a dream.
I asked my Facebook friends. No one, as expected, had read it. I was about to give up and declare myself the new author of a cool book I knew I had read but no one knew of. My own Yesterday. And then a friend named Nissa, who I imagine has read every book ever written by this point goes, “Is it Singularity by William Sleator?”
I doubted it. For one thing, I didn’t recognize the title. I didn’t recognize the author. I know I had never seen the cover.
The only other brief fleeting feeling I had was that the cover was blue and someone with a badly drawn face was naked, which didn’t make a lot of sense to be on the cover of a book I was reading in my 5th grade classroom, 4th desk from the front, 2nd row in on the right. The description of Singularity sounded vaguely like the book I was remembering, but like, vaguely? I didn’t remember a toothy eel or whatever those Saved by the Bell looking boys were trying to make me look at, but there was a lot about this thing I couldn’t remember, so I bought it on the off chance I could close that chapter and move on.
And then I forgot about it.
Until yesterday when I was putting my kid’s Harry Potter book back on his bookshelf. (Side note: Thankfully we already own all the HP books and I don’t have to make the moral decision to financially support that woman’s horrific viewpoints or make my kid stop at book 6. Anyway) I saw Singularity sitting, dusty on the shelf and having just finished a book, I knew what I had to do. I had to finish what my 5th grade self had been yelling out to me subconsciously for 30 something years. I decided to read the book to find out if this was the thing I couldn’t let go of, but could never find.
It’s a funny thing that where you were at at the age of 11 can be exactly where you’re at when you’re 43. It was the year that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I have written poems and stories since I could pick up a pencil, but when I knew was in 5th grade. When I wrote a book about witches that my teacher turned in for some contest. And I won. Only a couple kids from my school were able to go, and I was one of them. The Young Writer’s conference. I didn’t go, but that’s for another day. The point is, I knew. I heard my dream crack into focus that year. The same year I fully realized my love for reading. The same year I read Singularity by William Sleator.
And here I am. 43 years old. In the middle of a pandemic, locked inside my house for the past 3 months, even though we’re officially allowed to leave. Here I am. 43 years old. Thriving in quarantine, reading a book for young adults about a boy who voluntarily locks himself in a shed for a year or 3 hours depending, and thrives.
Here I am, having read a book that has haunted me for 30 something years and was as completely enjoyable today as it was 30 something years ago. Here I am, remembering that I really, really want to be a writer. Here I am, happy that my brain saved every tidbit of that book that it did.
Except I could’ve actually lived without this.