When I was young, teenagers were deities. I couldn’t imagine becoming one both because my years seemed to plod round the sun and because I felt weak in the company of older children. It was as though I had been born without a force field.
When I was in the sixth grade, I went to see a high school production of South Pacific and was so smitten by the lead, Tom, the oldest son of my fourth grade teacher, that I wanted to rush the stage just to breathe his atmosphere. How handsome he seemed from afar, how tall, how straight, how commanding.
Then, something happened: I saw him change costume in the wings, and my life was never again the same. The magic was gone in an instant, and my thespian god was made just as fleshy real as my impossible older brother.
While writing We, I have been tempted to discuss it with you–to analyze the creative process and to reflect on the story’s evolving meaning. I have wanted to know what you think about individual chapters and what you think about the whole work so far. Then, I think of Tom off stage wiggling out of that white shirt, and I fear you will be as disappointed with me as I was with him.