If I could have anyone over for brunch, I would invite Judy Blume. Over lox and bagels, I would tell Ms. Blume how much her books meant to me as a child. I would tell her how The Pain and the Great One captured my anger towards my brother. Or how my 3rd grade class loved Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing because who, at that age, doesn’t secretly want to act outrageously. And how Forever was passed around my sixth grade class because it was the first book that spoke to directly to us about sex. Over brunch, Ms. Blume would explain how she was able to connect with a multitude of children, and I could learn how to develop that kind of understanding.
Judy Blume was not the choice I thought I would make. I racked my brain for reasons why Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem, or even US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would be a far more logical and meaningful choice. But my desire to share a meal with someone who might understand the conflicting emotions I felt through most of my childhood, without having to explain anything, made Ms. Blume the only person I want to welcome into my messy house.
Talking with Ms. Blume would allow me to reconnect with the 12-year old version of myself I miss. I was an awkward kid who really didn’t fit in at school. Ms. Blume’s books taught me I could be more than what was expected, how to understand my feelings and discuss them with others. She made me a more thoughtful and inquisitive adult. Our brunch together would remind me how I once believed books made anything possible – that there was some place for everyone. I miss that.
Marjorie Weber Schaeffer currently teaches kindergarten in St. Louis as part of Teach For America. She graduated from Wellesley College this past June with a major in psychology and a minor in education studies.