Things Outside My Bubble


You were my favorite author for all of childhood – I remember looking up your name on my family computer, trying to find something about you that might connect us. In 3rd grade, my teacher helped me send you a letter. I remember the day I got your note back in the mail very clearly. My parents probably thought I was insane the way I ran around the house holding the manila envelope in my hands. In it was a list of writing tips you had given me, which I assume now was a standard response, but in between the lines of type writer font you’d written me a little note. I can’t remember what it said now, but I do remember feeling completely swallowed whole with hope and excitement. After that, I ordered a signed poster of you off of the internet and hung it up on my wall. You were my childhood hero – you made me dream.

Fast forward to now, I’m 18 years old, just graduated high school, and all I can think about is how I want to reread the Alice series. I went to an arts high school where I majored in the Literary program, with a focus on poetry. I don’t think I want to write for a living but I do know that I love it, and that on the worst days, writing is the greatest comfort I could ask for. I opted out of college for this year, and probably next year as well. I have this dream of moving to the south, to some small town. I want to learn something from people who are entirely different from me. I’ve grown up in a family of four kids, living just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. My parents are wonderful and loving and fun and encouraging. My siblings are my best friends. I have a lot of safety here, in this city, in this house. In a way, that makes me more interested in leaving it. I will always have people to come home to, I’m incredibly lucky for that, but I also have the amazing opportunity and ability to leave it and experience things outside of this safe bubble.

I suppose I’m writing to you because I have always believed that you have a world of things to teach me. Not only about writing, but about life and love and growth. I have no idea if you check this email, or if you’ll be able to respond, but I want to thank you for all that you did for my child heart, and for me, even now. I hope you are doing well, and just know that if you ever need any company, or if you are looking for someone to write you letters, I would love to learn from you. Thank you so much, Phyllis. I owe you a lot.

Phyllis replied:

I feel honored that my books affected you so deeply. A lot of myself went into the Alice books, so perhaps that translated better than I’d hoped. Your parents obviously raised you well, and made you secure enough that you want to venture out and experience how other people live their lives. You will undoubtedly come across people who have values and conduct their lives much different from your own, and if you are patient, you will discover what is behind some of their prejudices and what gives them strength and courage. And they will learn from you. I would love to hear from you again when you have settled on a particular place and experienced life in a small southern town. My father was from Mississippi, and I found his relatives warm and caring. I predict you will make many friends.

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