In an abbreviated way, I tell the story of Lynda’s life and mine as we grew up and grew closer. In this way I explain why it is Sullivan Street Press is willing to donate $1.00/per e-book copy sold of Scags at 18.
I don’t pretend to know what it is like to face a death sentence or a probable death sentence, except of course, that we all face death from the moment we are born. That is just a fact of life but not our most conscious thought as we go about our daily lives. Yet, I believe, that because of that knowledge we all question why we are here, what does our life mean, and how can we best live fully? I think Lynda lies awake at night bothered by these thoughts more than most of us do.
In Lynda’s case, I think she was always full of the need to give back. She was and still is an active member of her local school board. It is an unpaid position and she has been a member of the board for a long time. She has to run for re-election periodically, but whenever I wish her well, she always says she will win because no one wants the job and the responsibilities that go with it. Yet, for years, she has gone to meetings, voted, been involved, kept up with what the district needed and helped it to get the resources it needed. Amazing, right? And more amazing, she does this while still struggling to sustain herself as she lives with the extra burden of ovarian cancer. Now, aren’t you impressed? I am.
What this has to do with Scags at 18 (and beyond as Scags’ struggles in the next two volumes of the series continue) is this: Scags too must learn who she is, what it is she wants to do and then go out there and do it. She has no other way to live her life other than at first to make it up as she goes along and then to be driven by her need to know and understand how the world works and where she belongs in it.
Lynda is my older cousin, the older sister I wanted when I was a child and the one I played with on the streets in Chicago and in my backyard. We liked playing together. Her life was exotic and mysterious to me. She lived in the city, really in the city; we lived in Skokie. I found the life of a big city school and the knowledge of how to take a bus and where the best bakeries were fascinating. My walks through my neighborhood with the staid brick houses lined up neatly on their lawns as if tombstones settling in bored me. Not until I grew up did I realize all the drama that went on behind those closed doors up and down our streets.
Even the soot on the windowsills in Chicago was more glamorous to me than the sealed windows and air conditioning we had installed because of my father’s bad heart and even worse diabetes. Lynda lived in a vast unknown world of a city. I lived in the cramped known world of my childhood suburb.
Skokie was and is provincial and small. Even reading its local paper from time to time, it reminds me that even bowling can reach epic heights in that Village. I mention bowling because it was their size and roundness that filled my throat when we left Lynda’s apartment to return to Skokie. Skokie made me feel choked; I refused to let it go any further into my being than that stoppered place in my throat.
Yet, I am writing the entire Scags Series based on a girl who leaves Skokie in order to find herself and her place in the world. No, she doesn’t think going home again is the answer.
Now, when I work on whatever volume of the Scags Series I am on, I am linked with Lynda. When I began writing Scags at 18, Lynda was healthy and I was lost trying to find what that story was really about. By the time I was in the midst of writing what that story had to be about, Lynda was at her one-year anniversary of having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. By the time I was racing to finish the book by my deadline, Lynda was having a rough time in her own daily life and it wasn’t a good time, not a happy time for her.
Now, I mark the events in my life by remembering what Lynda was going through when I was doing something related to my Scags Series and so in my mind, Scags and her struggle and Lynda and hers are irretrievably tied. Lynda and I are tied by blood and a common memory of our dead relatives and the unstoppable wars waged by our two mothers against each other. Scags and Lynda, Lynda and me. These bonds are very real to me. Thank God for that.