When I met my wife she was younger than I was (and I suppose she always will be). Not a disturbing, creepy age difference like that other writer-couple you are thinking about right now – but I was twenty-eight and she only was twenty-two and had, for example, never tasted curry. (People from Winnipeg will understand this when I say that she had spent her whole life in St. James, where she still lived. With her parents.) So Brenda didn’t seem young so much as younger if you understand me, and I tried, not always successfully, not to be a jerk about that. And because I was that much older, and was published years before she was, for a long time I was the Writer and she was the young one who Was Going to Write.
It has been five years since my last book came out; Brenda has had two books come out this year. She blogs about them, like you’re supposed to now, and you should not only buy and read her books, but look at her blog sometimes too.
Today she wrote about yearning in her blog, about how the young people in her novel Your Constant Star, and a number of the characters in her short story collection, Boy Lost in Wild, yearn for things they maybe can’t name; and maybe that’s one of the things writers do, try to name things like that.
And I thought about the great, yearning I felt when I was a boy about the age of our kids (8 and 10): a hungry yearning, a tooth-ache sort of yearning; I didn’t quite know what kind and that was part of what was awful. “I really want something,” I said to my mother, “but I don’t know what it is.”
It was a long time before I could name it, but I see it in our children now – now, as they are leaving childhood, or at least small childhood, behind. Now and then it comes on them that they have a sudden urgent need to be held, to curl up beside us, as if they understand that very soon it won’t be so natural, it will be something that they can yearn for but may not find for a long while.
Brenda and I both had a terrible yearning to be a writer, and we had a yearning for children, and like our kids we yearn for the time we have now that is not gone yet, but it is going – and we can feel it going – going.
And then it will be just us, and we’ll both be older, but we will have one another to hold, to curl up beside, for a long time and I suppose we will yearn for that even while we still have it too.