Looking for my seat on a flight home, I saw her.
“That’s Judy Blume.” I thought. “Gotta be.” Sitting in her Delta Airlines blue, aisle seat, right across from mine, as it turns out.
There was no picture of her in the books I'd read through elementary school and into high school (along with millions of other kids.) We were on a short flight from Atlanta to Key West.
I remember someone telling me she lived there (in a way swanker house than me, I'm guessing.) In case you're not familiar, she wrote classics like "Are you there God, it's me Margaret", “Blubber” and “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing,” and quite a few others that are probably still on the library bookshelf of schools all over the world.
In a nutshell, her books de-mystified and de-clawed all the coming-of-age milestones that are harmless and natural, but regularly freak out kids and many adults.
In my book, anyone who takes ignorance-based pain and anguish away is not just a "Yes" but a "Hell YES!" I dropped my carry-on in the empty seat next to mine and sat down in haze of nostalgia.
Here's the thing.
I’d traveled with Judy Blume before, more decades ago than I’m going to say here, on a creaking school bus, the faint smell of exhaust coming through the open window on an Indian summer September afternoon. Back then I was small enough to ease in to the corner where the green “pleather” seat meets the window, using my bunched up sweater as a pillow, my book bag in the seat next to me, I'd curl up in that singular way you do when you're engrossed in a good book. If the serene-looking lady sitting across the aisle from me wrote it, I’d read it. And here we were. Damn!
After the plane took off, I pondered the view of Judy Blume's kid-lit canon from 35,000 feet.
When you’re reading Judy Blume as a kid, you think adults have all the answers, and when you grow up, you’ll have them too.
Spoiler alert: Don’t make me laugh. No one took me aside and said, "Courtney there's important information and critical lessons about growing up in these books. Read them!"
I was just a kid who liked to read and happened upon them. That's the way vital information comes to you sometimes.
When you start working, you think working hard is the key to success, but it's not, that's a dangerous half-truth. You get ahead by knowing more than the person sitting next to you.
I wish there'd been a work version of Judy Blume books.
You get them the day you graduate.
No B.S. career reality the way she doled out no B.S. growing up reality.
There's a lot that needs to be de-mystified and de-clawed in your career.
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