Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

#298 Michael Davidson: How Dangerous He Can Be to Himself

Michael Davidson was born in Miami in 1979. At 2, his parents moved him to Houston and he had a fun childhood there. His parents weren’t over-protective, so he ran around the pool and swam a lot. He rode his bike, walked through the woods, and carved his initials into a gazebo. He climbed onto the roof and leaned against the chimney whenever he was locked out and no one was home. He didn’t read much. He stayed home from school and watched cartoons. He mostly ate grilled cheese sandwiches and mac ‘n cheese. Michael’s first hobby was collecting baseball cards, which he still has, and the stack is a personal reminder of what it means to grow historic. When Michael was 12, his parents moved the family to Barranquilla, on the coast of Colombia, where his mother is from. There, Michael played tennis on red clay courts and Ping-Pong in his sister’s room. He ate arepas and empanadas and deditos. Cheese follows Michael everywhere he goes. In high school, Michael played tennis and did yearbook, which probably helped him get into college, where he studied economics, thinking it would help him get a job. This was a misconception. So far, he hasn’t used his degree for any specific kind of employment. Michael has done remote work for Google, worked as a golf range ball picker, a residential appraiser, and a math tutor. Michael has lived with his wonderful girlfriend Bridget since 2007 and he can’t stop making her smile because he likes seeing her smile so much. Also, Bridget makes home feel like home and he likes it when she plays the piano, which makes him think about how beautiful her mind is. For a while, Michael thought that signing the mortgage to his first home was an important event, but deciding to get out from under the mortgage and start living well again, free from being indentured to the bank, was more important. Here’s a subject change: Michael can only clip his nails outside. Something else: he has a scar between his bottom lip and chin that isn’t small. He got it from the Pacific Ocean, which picked him up when he was body surfing and slammed his face into the seafloor, where he floated around underwater and thought he was going to die. When he surfaced, he felt the sun and laughed, but he couldn’t talk right and part of his mouth was collapsed. Michael didn’t know what kind of person he was until the Pacific Ocean hurt him. He sees the scar in the mirror every day: He sees people staring at the scar when he talks. It’s a reminder of how dangerous he can be to himself. In 2009, Michael’s grandfather died and he hadn’t seen him for nearly a year. He can’t remember exactly what he said or what he looked like the very last time he saw him. In 2010, shortly before his grandmother died, he held her hand in the hospital and said goodbye. This somehow lightened the weight of losing her. Recently, Michael learned how to handpress paperback novels right on his kitchen table and he named the enterprise Tiny TOE Press, which published his first novel, Austin Nights. Michael is happy and healthy and at peace with everyone around him.

#176 Cyndy Taylor: Miss Lancaster County

If you google Miss Lancaster County, the wonderful Cyndy Taylor's postcard life story is the first hit.

Cyndy Taylor mostly grew up in Lancaster, PA, where her childhood was both wonderful and horrible. Her parents were generally good, smart, and meant well. Cyndy had lots of freedom to run around with her friends. There was enough money to be comfortably middle class. But things went haywire in Cyndy’s later childhood, especially as her father's alcoholism progressed. Once, during a family fight, her father shot a shotgun in the basement and pretended to kill himself. Another time, her father lay down in front of the car to prevent Cyndy and her mother and her brother from leaving him. Her brother screamed at their mother—Drive, drive. After that, her parents separated, and, during that time, Cyndy and her brother would sneak back in the family house late at night after their father passed out; they would take clothes, TVs, all the unopened Christmas presents, and, once, even a recliner. So her best memories from older childhood are of being very active in plays and musicals and spending time immersed in novels. Cyndy was always in the chorus at school. She loved being so good at singing and acting, the magic of transcending her daily life. Another thing that happened in high school: Cyndy’s boyfriend and the guy she was cheating on him with had an affair with each other. So Cyndy left as much of that behind as she could when she went to college—where she was a theater major before switching to social work. In 1980, Cyndy won the title of Miss Lancaster County. She always crushed the talent portion. The period after college was difficult, though, especially when Cyndy had to fix herself, her eating disorders. Being hospitalized didn’t cure her, but it was a catalyst for getting healthy. After she got better, Cyndy was in a singing group that lived on a cruise ship. After that, Cyndy moved to NYC for the musical theater. She loves that time in her life, though she wishes she would have had some kind of large-scale success. She would have liked to see if she really enjoyed it or not. In 1990, she married her first husband, but they divorced in 1994, which was horrible. She felt as if it were her fault, but eventually felt relieved of that guilt once he was happily re-married. During that time, Cyndy started working in college publishing even though she didn't have an English degree (but she was brought up in an editorial environment; her father and brother are both English profs). In 1996, Cyndy married Rick Davis, the drummer in her rock band. He's as different from her as she could imagine, but they have similar core values. For years, they tried to have children, but their girl wasn’t born until Cyndy was in her 40s, and it was a few years after for the boy. They are glad they kept trying. Having their beautiful children is the best thing that ever happened to them. Cyndy is proud to be bringing up her son and daughter to be the cool people that she now feels pretty sure they are going to be.

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