I haven’t been back to my hometown of Buffalo, NY, for many years. Possibly 15, in fact. Not since my older brother was living here, recovering from the aftermath of a liver transplant and other major health issues.

Yesterday and today I have visited two of the schools I went to when I lived in the modest suburb of Kenmore. Yesterday, I was a guest at a meeting of the Writing Club, organized by an enterprising English teacher, Marjorie Waldron.

I didn’t know what to expect, having arranged this at the last minute when I thought I might as well try to have more than one event while I’m here in Buffalo. I brought Betty with me for protection (not! She’s a little fluffy white dog; I really brought her as an icebreaker).

Turns out I didn’t need an icebreaker, although everyone loved Betty. These students were lively, confident, forthcoming, welcoming. They were all eager to share their work with me, and took turns reading their short stories/chapters/poems aloud. It was a breath of fresh air, to see that students in the txt generation wanted to create narratives in good, coherent English, wanted to tell stories and open up by spilling their thoughts onto a page.

I don’t know if they got anything from me. Honestly, I mostly listened! But I thank them for reminding me how exciting and new and wonderful it was to be twelve or thirteen. In case any of my YA writer friends are wondering, these were the themes that popped up in their writing: Love, friends, action, adventure. In about that order.

More about today’s high school visit to come!