Not to brag or anything, but us nineties kids had the best childhoods ever!
Seriously we had it all. We grew up when kids could still be kids and go play outside and explore in peace, but we were raised hand in hand with technology as it became more mainstream. My generation had the first computer labs, played to original Oregon Trail and Mouse Practice on repeat.
But by far the thing I am happiest to have grown up with are my cartoons. Which brings me to the point of this latest addition to my Influence and Inspiration list, Hey Arnold.
Out of all the shows I watched as a kid, this was always one of the best, having the best characters and the best stories which still hit as hard as any ‘adult’ material I have ever seen since. Nearly every episode has added a little something to my creativity, but there is one in particular that I connected with specifically as a writer that still informs who I am to this day. Crabby Author.
If you haven’t seen it the story basically is this. The main character Arnold wants to do a report on his favorite author, and when tracking her down finds she lives on an island in the middle of his city’s lake/river. But when he finally meets her he realizes that she is a crabby old hermit that just wants to be left alone. After that, it is the usual heartwarming tale of an eager young boy getting past her defenses and them becoming friends of a sort. But that isn’t what stuck with me.
You see, about thirty minutes from where I grew up there is an island in the middle of a river. It’s pretty historical and a huge part of even our state’s history, so my babysitter and later my school and summer rec programs would take us there nearly every year for the tour of the island with its old houses and natural wonders. And then gathering around the camp site at night for smores and all that goodness.
From the first time I set foot on this island I loved it, the hiking in the woods, telling ghost stories of a newly wedded mother who drowned in her wedding dress trying to save her drowning sons from the river. Trying to scare each other saying we saw her white glowing form down on the river bank.
All of this was a part of me before I originally saw this episode. I was already making plans of how I could live there one day when I grew up. So when I saw this woman author in her awesome cozy cabin on an island all to herself I immediately pictured myself in her place on my island in one of those old and hopefully haunted houses near the river.
Regardless of the reality that this island of mine is not open for private ownership, given that it’s state protected and all that, this is still a dream that fuels me. Between the giddiness of my introverted self having a secluded space of my own in nature surrounded by the river, and then being a bestselling author to boot. I still salivate at the thought.
And really, this is what we all need. A dream beyond just the writing, but who we want to be when we get there.
Of course, in writing this I now have an entire bunch of fictional authors I want to sing the praises of, but for another time perhaps.