A Penny in the Sea

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.

~ C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, dedication to Lucy Barfield

Recording my life seemed like the most natural thing in the world to me when I was given my first journal at age six. What, you might ask, would a six-year-old write about? Well, gymnastics class, and what I ate for lunch, and the birth of my cousin Michael, and even the occasional melodramatic complaint about how everyone hated me and how I should just run away. I included lengthy descriptions of post office field trips, lists of Christmas gifts, my feelings about a certain boy at Bible Study Fellowship. I even compiled detailed information in the back about my friends and family, based on quite a bit of sleuthing (I was under the impression that my thoughtful Nana, based on her occupational tendencies when visiting our house, “really likes doing dishes”!).

I loved that journal: its pink hearts spiraling across the pages, the cheap lock and key that gave me a sneaky sense of secrecy, and the deliberately shaped letters, forming words that somehow incarnated my six-year-old feelings and dreams. Words were magic to me, and the chance to escape from the daily tasks of crafting sidewalk chalk masterpieces and defeating pirate kidnappers with my sisters into literary endeavors was an adventure in itself.

At the time of writing, I’m starting a very new phase. I just graduated from college with a degree in Music Ministry in May, and after an incredible two weeks touring Europe with my choir, I’m starting to realize what “post-graduation” means. For the first time, my summer will consist of working and living from my apartment in the Cities instead of with my family in rural Minnesota. There is a wide, sparkling blank ahead of me, although the immediate future is slightly focused. I know very little, but I have found a different sort of magic, even a sense of home, in wonder and curiosity about the world. The best writing reflects the real world to us through fresh lenses. As an inchoate writer, I am not searching for sentimentality and nostalgic romanticism of the past, but for a renewed sense of purpose, rooted in what is real and true.

So this is the prologue, the opening credits, the casting of a penny into the sea with dreams that, like the tales I loved so well, great trees of silver and gold will shoot out from it. As I record and wonder and muse, feel free to respond with your own thoughts, stories, questions, anything really! Dialogue is a wonderful thing. Surprise me.

Side note: I hope to post at least once a week during the summer months, and having written that down will, ideally, bring some accountable momentum amidst selling plasma and rehearsing for Tarzan. Cheers!

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2 thoughts on “A Penny in the Sea

  1. I see your way with words, Jess! So glad you are doing this – I will love reading what comes from your head and heart! And by the way, I really do like doing dishes – not love, just like! But I do love you! Nana

  2. Loved reading your thoughts, Jess, and am intrigued by your way of expressing yourself–you have a gift! Now I might know a bit about what’s going on in that brilliant head of yours!

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