# of pages written: 3 (of a story, not a novel. Let’s not talk about novels right now.)
# of days left to write 1st draft: 125
Yesterday I asked one of my tutoring students if he was excited to go back to school.
“No,” he said.
“I used to get so bored in the summer,” I told him, “that I couldn’t wait to go back to school.”
He looked at me like I was insane.
When I got home, Nikki and I had a conversation about how over-scheduled kids are these days. “Kids need to get bored – that’s when they get creative,” I said.
“Exactly.” Nikki nodded, scooping nut butter out of a jar with her finger. “Just look at us.”
Recently, Nikki and I read parts of my high school diary, including the following excerpt from a summer day when we were fifteen, (please excuse the un-PC way in which I used to use the word retarded):
“Nikki and I lazed the day away being retarded and laughing a lot and being retarded and drooling and being bored. We went to Towers for four hours to visit Degra at Harris Teeter and get groceries.”
“Four hours?” I exclaimed when Nikki and I finished reading this. “We hung out at the grocery store for four hours? What were we doing?”
“I don’t know,” Nikki said, laughing. “It’s so crazy. We would literally do nothing.”
My friends and I were not the over-scheduled type of kids. For the most part, our parents let us fend for ourselves. When I used to complain to my mom that I was bored, she would say, “that’s not my problem. Entertain yourself.” And that’s just what my friends and I did. We would get so bored, we’d finally figure out some method of entertainment. Granted, sometimes this was playing on the roof or setting things on fire, but often we were quite creative. From the ages of eleven through sixteen, here are some of the creative things my friends and I did to entertain ourselves:
-created an international cooking club
-tried to make a quilt (we never did finish)
-held a photoshoot and made a calendar with the results (this was before digital photos, so you should be impressed)
-threw theme parties with homemade invitations
-wrote poems and guessed who wrote which poem
-created our own scavenger hunts
-made up songs and choreographed dances then performed these for the bums in the park
-made up baggies of trail mix to distribute to the bums, with mixed results
-cut Degra’s hair and used some of it for an art project
-and probably more things I’m forgetting
Nikki and I were reminiscing about all of this, and I told her about a game I used to play with a friend in middle school. “We would decide whether we were going to be a murderer, victim, or innocent,” I said, “and we’d come up with our character’s name and profession. Then we’d just act out different scenes. I mean, it was basically make-believe. We were telling stories.”
“Yeah,” Nikki said. “Degra and I were so obsessed with Lord of the Rings, we would act out different scenes from the movie.”
“How old were you when you did that?”
“Oh, we were like nineteen.” Nikki licked nut butter from her finger and shrugged.
I never knew that Nikki was obsessed with the Lord of the Rings, but she brought it up again today as I was crying (yes, literally crying) about not getting any writing accomplished and feeling like a failure. “You’re on this epic journey right now, Eva,” she told me. “Like in Lord of the Rings.”
“Yeah,” I said, sniffing into a tissue, “but in an epic journey you at least walk a little ways and make a little progress. I don’t even know which direction to walk in. I don’t even know where the path is. I don’t even know where I’m trying to go or what I’m trying to do.”
Nikki grinned. “I think that’s the best place for you to be. You haven’t started down a path – that’s great. It means you could go down any path. You’re so open right now to the possibilities. It’s awesome.”
“I guess,” I said. “But I still feel like I did absolutely nothing today, and that’s not a good feeling.”
In fact, it feels an awful lot like how I used to feel in the summertime as a kid. Those long, endless days of nothingness used to make me so antsy. But sometimes, out of boredom comes creativity. Maybe I just haven’t gotten bored enough. And when I do, I’ll entertain myself by telling a story. After all, the summer’s almost over, and a journey has to start somewhere.