a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Other, More Exciting Self

“For the first time in his life, he got up every morning with something to look forward to.  Leslie was more than his friend.  She was his other, more exciting self—his way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyonds.”
-from Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Years ago, my friend Dena gave me a collage with this quote in the center.  Recently, I found a giant read-aloud edition of the book and gave it to her son (who is only 5 now) for her to read with him one day.  I gave it to him in hopes that he will one day have a friend who is as valuable to him as his mom is to me. 

I meant this sentiment, but I had no idea how deeply I meant it until the day I gave her the book. 

Although we grew up near each other in Illinois, Dena now lives in Minnesota.  Because her parents live nearby, I still get to see her fairly often when she visits them. Most recently was her trip during Easter weekend.  That Saturday, she asked if we could take a walk together. 

I have a new nature path behind my house, so she came over and we hit the trails.  We walked.  We talked.  We reflected.  We laughed.  We stopped dead in our tracks to allow two deer to cross the path in front of us to join their herd of seven breathtaking companions.  And we continued walking, talking, reflecting, laughing. 

There are a rare few friends I have with whom I am truly myself.  Dena is one of them.  She reminds me who I am.  She grounds me and helps me stay centered in the midst of my crazy life.  Sharing that walk with her not only made me feel reconnected to her, but it reminded me of my high school self, who used to walk and talk with Dena around the outdoor track during physical education classes.  Walking with Dena is the closest thing there is to walking with me. 

Everyone deserves someone to be their other, more exciting self—their way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyond.  Everyone deserves a Dena.


  1. Wow--what a great friendship! I found myself thinking of close friends who have both expanded my world and have kept me grounded in it. I can tell that Dena is an important part of your life.
    Do you plan to share this with her?

  2. Dena sounds like a constant rock in your life. I agree that everyone should have a friend that keeps you grounded and allows you to be your true self. I'm sure that she would be flattered by your reflection of your friendship.

  3. We don't get a chance to have many of those kinds of friends, and it's lovely that you would write about her in such a loving way. I hope you have shared this with her.

  4. The way you moved the reader from the quote, to your memory, and then forward in time was really wonderful. Your line about joining the herd of seven breathtaking companions was lovely.

  5. @Ruth, Elizabeth, and Linda, Dena and I are not only nerdy enough to share books, but we follow each other's blogs. She is the owner of the "Uno Son" blog listed on my site. She beat me to the post about our Easter weekend visit, but we still have our own perspectives!
    @Diana- thank you!

  6. "Walking with Dena is the closest thing there is to walking with me." Very special sentiment. I enjoyed sharing your walk with Dena.

  7. What a beautiful tribute to your friend. You are lucky to have each other. I love the way you wove your quote into describing your relationship--and "Bridge to Terabithia" is such a fabulous book to share....

  8. This was very moving. I am so glad you have each other.

  9. I am so glad that Dena follows your blog. Your writing was beautiful. Your friendship is precious.