“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde

 

Angela, in my book The Costume Copycat, is insanely jealous of her older sister Bernadette, who aces the Halloween costume competition every year. Her solution? Copying her older sister. Does it work? Not so well.

I learned this the hard way, growing up with a perfect older sister. Joan and I lived outside of Detroit in a family with eight kids and lots of pets. We spent lots of time skating, exploring, and playing Clue and Spud and kickball. Our home was always crowded and noisy. My Irish grandmother sometimes lived with us. She was a good storyteller and so was my father. Grandma Mooney told us about all the sneaky things she did when she was a child (true) and Dad told us about his exciting adventures when he was a cowboy (not-so-true). Dad also read us Grimm’s Fairy Tales and took us to the library every single week. Sometimes he took us to see movies about faraway places, too. I borrowed stacks and stacks of books, developed wanderlust, and began to write stories of my own.

Travelling didn’t happen in my family. We worked instead…the goal was college. Driving a Good Humor truck and packaging automobile parts during the summers was worth it…I loved going to the University of Michigan! But on my twenty-first birthday, I flew to London, and finally discovered the joys of seeing the world. I met a man on the move and married him. Together, we lived in London and Paris for many years. One of our daughters was born in France and the other in England. Our family travelled all over Europe, and to north Africa and to the Middle East.

After our daughters grew up, my husband and I moved to New York City. My life now is a lot like it was when I was a child. Whenever I can, I still skate, play games and look for places to explore. There’s never enough time for reading and writing. And every now and then, I get just a little bit jealous…