In today’s ORIGINS, Rachel Demma talks about the inspiration for her story “Safe,” which appears in the spring 2012 issue of jmww:
I am a nostalgia junkie. Nostalgia itself is an emotional catch-all for an incredibly complex series of sensations. I love the kaleidoscope of feelings it stirs up for me, a quixotic mix of wistful, sentimental, and bittersweet. “Safe” actually began as an exercise in working out some of my fondest childhood memories on paper, but as I embellished aspects of the story, it evolved from a memoir to a piece of fiction. Still, it is has a strong anchor in my own suburban childhood and memories of summertime hide-and-go-seek games that my whole neighborhood played.
The story explores that awkward “tween” time of growing up. At that age, I can remember how earnestly I studied and admired my older brother’s friends who were all in high school. They were endlessly fascinating, and I recall the urgency I had to catch up to their age almost as a physical strain. I couldn’t wait to be 16, when I would inherit the coolness and independence that would be mine once I just crossed that threshold. And while I remember friends were all-important support networks during this period of time, relationships with family members became little rodeos where we wrestled for control. Of course, this time was also about boys, and I am still overly nostalgic about the sweet intensity of my very first crush. This story captures a summer that hangs suspended between points of self-confidence and curiosity, and tries to give voice to both the zeal and unease that fuel the narrator’s transition into adolescence.
Rachel Demma will be reading Saturday, April 14th, as part of 510 at the Festival, the traditional Festival edition of the popular 510 Reading Series at Enoch Pratt Library’s CityLit Festival.
1-1:50 pm, Fine Arts Department, 2nd Floor
Enoch Pratt Library
400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
(with Matthew Norman, Christine Lincoln, and Sara Lippman)