They still call you “Janey,” don’t they? You’re lucky: you have a dad who calls you his “pretty girl”, a mother who is a best friend, and four siblings you like. You’re basically happy. You have a few casual friends so you don’t feel too terribly defective, even though it was hard leaving behind your close friends when your family moved from California to Utah two years earlier. You never quite got socially in step in SLC, did you? Don’t let it worry you, since everything turns out fine, but you’re doomed to move again in the middle of your senior year.
Your lack of bosom buddies makes it easier to “pretend” to be a normal teenage girl, since no one cares much what you’re really like. (Not that there is such a thing as a true stereotypical teenager—everyone spends time pretending). For you, pretending consists of laughing at things you don’t find funny, trying to explain why you laugh at things you do find funny, cheering at ballgames only when you hear other people shouting, trying to pin your butterfly mind to the real world enough to respond adequately when it’s required, and trying to cover up when you’re excruciatingly embarrassed. That happens quite often, I’m afraid—the excruciating embarrassment, I mean. It’s because you’re shy and sensitive. Luckily most of the shyness fades eventually.
I want you to start showing people your real self. Today. Life would be so much more fun if you weren’t scared to say aloud the interesting, funny things you think. People will like you if you reveal your true self. Promise.
Of course, maybe if you were more popular, you would lose out on some dreamtime in your Secret World. Hah! That’s where you are, right now, isn’t it? I figured as much. You make up stories while you’re driving your family’s Dodge Dart, while you recline in your candle-lit bathtub, while you wait to fall asleep, and even when you’re walking the halls at school (which can be dangerous). Usually your stories are romances that take place in the olden days and feature glorious long dresses and fabulous settings. They are excellent practices for your future writing. In fact, Strands of Bronze and Gold is a much-refined version of one of them. The only modern romance you conjure up is when you imagine how you will meet up once again with J__T__, who is the boy you left behind in California, and who you continued to adore (unrequited and long-distance) until you came into your own at The Terrace.
Oh…The Terrace! Yay! You have it to look forward to. You discover it right after your Senior-year move. They have dances there every Thursday night. At The Terrace, you feel pretty with your long hair and your romantic, old-fashioned, gorgeous Gunne Sax dresses. You love to dance and you meet lots and lots of guys. You learn to flirt and receive your first kiss at the ripe old age of eighteen. You forget J__T__. It’s a relief. And it only gets better.
For many years, JANE NICKERSON and her family lived in a big old house in Aberdeen, Mississippi, where she worked as the children’s librarian at the local public library. She has always loved the South, “the olden days,” Gothic tales, houses, kids, writing, and interesting villains. She and her husband now make their home in Ontario, Canada.