Last week, I shared about some of my creative childhood activities. Today, I want to tell you about the (strange but) creative things I did while I was a teenager. To truly understand some of these things, you have to remember that I grew up in a small town of about 700. My class had about 70 people in it.
1. Question Book.
I carried around a regular old spiral-bound notebook, and inside it, on each page was a question. Some were silly, some were interesting, some were huge (are people inherently good or evil?), and I passed it around in my classes, where people would add their responses and read those from others. I loved looking through the pages and seeing all the opinions, especially when written conversations (or arguments) would take place right inside my notebook.
2. Memory List.
In sixth grade, I wrote down a half-page of things I wanted to remember about the Kimball High School class of 2000’s elementary years. In seventh grade, I brought it to school, and word got out, and people started asking to read it. When I got my list back, people had added their own memories to it, so I typed them up at home. For the next five years, I’d bring a copy of the memory list to school for a couple days each year, circulate it around my grade, letting people add to it. Upon our graduation, it was probably 12 pages long. There is a copy of it in my dad’s safe-deposit box, and I hope my class will do something with it for a future reunion.
3. Thank You List.
I made a list of every person in my grade. Across the top of the page, I wrote THANK YOU, and next to each name I wrote one thing I was grateful to that person for. I hung it up on my locker during class one morning, and it was so fun to later find a big group of people huddled around it, looking for their names. People said things to me that day like, “I didn’t know anyone even cared about that thing I do!” or “I had no idea that was important to you.” Loved it.
4. Imaginary Organizations.
My poor, dear, delightful high school friends were subjected to my strange imagination. I created a fake band for us (Tempest Pixy), including a theme song and stage names for each of us (my favorites were Chizel Smithbanger and Hexron Davis). We also had a fake “Russian Spy Ring” where I assigned fake foreign names to each of my “spy” friends. I should clarify, most of us were in the RSR, but we did also have Spanish, German, and Japanese arms to the group as well. (Do you think I’m insane yet?) In our senior yearbook, I even “bequeathed” presidency of the RSR to my friend’s younger brother, whom I had forced into the RSR.
5. Soap Opera.
Yup, I wrote one for a while. It was about a group of friends from Sunnyside High who were dealing with little things such as AIDS, teenage pregnancy, love triangles, motorcycle accidents, and long-lost twins reuniting. I’d write a couple scenes, pass it around among friends, and when the notebook returned to me, I’d write a few more.
During these years, I was also writing a lot of stories and poems (bad ones). I had so many ideas, and I rarely saw stories all the way through to completion. Can you tell what a strange kid I was? And yet, I had amazing friends who loved me, loved my creativity (most of the time), and who thought I was smart and hilarious. Again, it’s not hard to see how I became a writer, is it?
Bonus– my friends and I also did “gut checks.” We live in a place that happens to have quite a few, um, murder sites and, um, “haunted” locations, so we would scare ourselves silly by visiting these places. My dear friend Dustin would tell stories about children with glowing eyes coming out of the weeds, and then he’d turn off the car lights and slam on the brakes and we’d all scream, even though we’d just done the same, tame thing the weekend before.
How about you?
Random 5 Friday is a weekly meme over at A Rural Journal.