Saturday, December 29, 2012

24 Years

   Shelton High School looks much the same as it did the first time I saw it in August of 1988.  At least superficially.  But nothing escapes change.  Everything evolves, and my old school is no exception.  
   I walked on the track, recalling the many times I ran after school at the direction of my coaches.  The cold air echoed the memory of the crowd's roar during football games.  I'm a little part of the field's past, a fact that puts a smile on my face.
   I just finished doing the first set of edits and revisions on a novel that's been 24 years in the making.  The very first few words that marked the beginning of this story were written right on the bleachers of the school's stadium.  Those words were also written in Spanish, my first language.  Through the years, the translations have been compiled into impressions, observations, events, and an endless stream of anecdotes since that first page.  As it turns out, I never finished writing it.  It's a body of work that has undergone as many evolutions as I have in real life.  It is after all based on much of my experience as a teenager starting his life anew in a different country with a much different culture.
   It's been my most difficult piece to commit to the page.
 Personal experience is a writer's fuel.  Everything we write demands a piece of ourselves, and this novel demanded entire parts of my heart and soul, some that I didn't even know I had.
  Even now, two decades later, the trophy cases at the main lobby evoked a series of emotions, and conjured an array of memories that I once thought lost.
   To say that the first book of the My Two Flags series is dear to my heart would be a severe understatement.  Although much of the novel exposes facets of the life I lived, I've gained enough experience to infuse a proper amount of fiction in order to give the story a unique tone; perhaps even a life of its own.  Each character is a conglomeration of people who touched my life, and in many ways, shaped me into who I am today. 
  It took 24 years, not to write this novel in its present form, but to muster the courage to share it.  I'm sure that once it's out there, in the hands of someone else, who may see themselves or someone they knew in the scenes, I may be more at peace with the fact that I willingly placed 24 years of work at the mercy of strangers.  
   In all honesty, I might have lost all perspective, for I'm too close to the story.  I know who in my life inspired whom within its pages, and I can only hope I did an adequate enough job in portraying what they meant in the life of the kid I once was.
   I've never been more torn over presenting something I wrote.  And yet, reliving some of the experiences has given me new levels of understanding about the better person I could be. I pray that 24 years of composing, creating, altering, remembering, and honoring the memories of a life I've been blessed to live, goes on to touch  the lives of those who take the journey with Tony Amaya, and if that person is you, perhaps you know someone like Tony.   
   Maybe one of your parents or grandparents left their countries to give their children a life in America.  Maybe you know a Chris Jawskowski.  Maybe you stood up to a Mrs. Erhoff.  Maybe you've been blessed with the friendship of a Patricia Paris.  Maybe you were a Rex, a Beth, a Derek, a Sean.  Maybe you forged a bond with someone different from you during a common struggle, be it sports, academics, or learning a new language.  
   Maybe you were able to find encouragement from a teacher like Mrs. Gennaro.  Maybe, just maybe, you look back on those four years of high school as the starting point of the person you are today.  

   Javier A. Robayo


  1. I am looking forward to reading this. Espicailly since our paths crossed a bit during high school lol

    1. Thank you. I've the feeling I'll have a few people ask me if the characters are someone they know.

  2. I love that you incorporated another character from THE GAZE into a new work. Seeing each of their individual perspectives brings so much more to THE GAZE in my opinion, yet each work stands on its own as well. I know better than most what it's like to put out a huge piece of your private feelings for the public to devour, so I applaud your bravery and am here to support.

    1. I've the feeling I'm going to have a difficult time writing other characters. It's so hard to let go of the people in The Gaze. I know eventually I will, but for this one, it's what brought it all together. I needed a specific kind of character, and it's always interesting to throw in connections between novels.

  3. Replies
    1. Lanie,I'm already nervous about your review on Versatile Reviews... ;)
      I still LOVE the one you did on The Next Chapter. I have a habit of visiting the page at least once a week!

  4. Congratulations, Javier!! I'm so proud of you for telling this story...and in such a memorable and beautiful way!! I know everyone will be in love with it, just as I am!

    1. Thanks Jo, for all the encouragement. I can't wait to give you the finished product! I hope you like all the improvements.