meet sarah johnson.

You may also meet her at some point as Peggy Dunlop. That was the old name. She has a new one now, needed one to try and keep herself and her family alive. She’s the main character in my NaNoWriMo 2010 novel. This is her interview:

(1) Sarah doesn’t have a nickname. When she was Peggy she’d sometimes be called Peg, but that had to disappear along with the rest of her life in Seattle.

(2) Sarah has brown hair and vivid green eyes. (3) She has a long nose that she thinks is too big, but its really straight, so no one else notices it.

(4) Sarah doesn’t have any birthmarks but she does have a scar on her left wrist. It happened on her wedding day, actually, kind of a funny story: Her husband Billy (well, Ryan now) was so nervous at the ceremony he burned her wrist with the unity candle.

(5) The sudden move caused Sarah to leave behind her friends and family—people she had known since childhood. She was very close with her mother and her two sisters, but she doesn’t get to talk to them anymore. She has made some new friends, mainly other nurses and a few doctors at the hospital she works at. Her next-door neighbor is also very kind, though Sarah isn’t sure they’re quite friends yet. She’s friendly with some of her son’s friend’s parents, but she works so much she doesn’t see them often enough to foster a friendship. It’s something she’s working on.

(6) Born and raised in Seattle, Sarah really misses the city. She is now calling Winona, Minnesota home, the first time she’s ever lived out of the state of Washington (or the city of Seattle, really).

(7) Running is a favorite hobby—any activity that keeps her busy, really, but running is what she turns to when frustrated or angry. In fact, when they moved to Minnesota, Sarah invested in both a 24-hour gym membership and a treadmill for the house. She has a sinking feeling that running outside isn’t possible year-round in this new state.

(8) Sarah’s biggest fear is losing her family. Her husband knows this—they’ve talked about it a lot since learning they had to move or risk being killed. She tries to keep the fear from her son, however. He’s young, just 9 years old, and she’s doing her best to keep his now-unusual life as normal as possible.

(9) Sarah tends to be an open book. In fact, she worked hard to stay honest with the people in her life—until the “nightmare” as it has started being called. Now much of her life is a secret, and its something she struggles with. To go from living as an open book to living as a classified document is not easy. Her husband helps a lot, however, as (10) he can always make her laugh out loud. Her son, also, has a knack for finding her laugh.

(11) Sarah met her husband in college. She was in nursing school, he was getting his journalism degree. They fell in love quickly, but waiting to get married until they had both graduated and started jobs. About a year after they got married they had their son Matt. Looking back, she firmly believes that Ryan was her first love, despite the boys she thought she loved in high school.

(12) Health is important to her (she is a nurse), so the entire family eats a lot of fruit and vegetables. They have very little meat, and when they do its usually fish or poultry. Sarah doesn’t eat red meat though her husband will once in awhile. She tries to keep it away from Matt, but he sometimes wants to be like daddy and will insist on a hamburger. Her body isn’t cluttered with junk and neither is her home. Her one weakness is never putting her clothes away. Usually the floor by her side of the bed is littered with workout clothes, nursing scrubs and pajamas. Its the only way she can remember what she’s already worn.

(13) A nurse by day and a runner when she can fit it, Sarah lives in sneakers. On those rare occasions when she has to wear real shoes she leans toward flip-flops or boots. With the new climate, however, she’s taken to wool socks and some fuzzy boots she picked up at Target.

(14) Sarah’s mother was a wonderful baker. One of the reasons Sarah is so active is that her mom would always be kicking her out of the house so she wouldn’t have to hear the begging and whining while something sweet-smelling was either baking or cooling. Her mom’s almond cookies were always her favorite, and to this day almond extract takes her back to that extremely yellow kitchen with the brown linoleum floor.

(15) After having to leave almost everything behind and buy new when they moved almost overnight, Sarah has found she no longer has an attachment to much. Her favorite childhood book, a hardback copy of “Little Women,” and any artwork her son creates are about the only things she insisted on bringing with.

(16) On the weekends Sarah, Matt and Ryan stay busy in the house, usually Sarah whips up some pancakes for everyone and they read the  newspaper while eating on the kitchen table. Orange juice for Sarah and Ryan, some milk for Matt. Once he’s had his fill, Matt will scamper off to the living room to watch Saturday morning cartoons while Sarah and Ryan, lately, have been discussing this new life and their plan for the next few days. After all, that’s how they now live—day to day. Anything more than that and it just gets completely overwhelming.

(17) Sarah and her two sisters used to spend summers playing pretend in their yard. The favorite pretend game was “school,” where Sarah was usually the teacher and her sisters were the very young kids attempting to learn the alphabet. It was fun, then, to escape into this dream and be someone else for a little bit. It would usually end when their mother would call them in for lunch, all three girls, giggling, would run into the kitchen and chow down on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrot sticks and a cookie. They’d often “toast” each other like they saw their parents do at family weddings, their favorite toast was “together forever.”

(18) Since the “nightmare” Sarah and Ryan don’t go out much. Their biggest outing now is usually school-related. Sarah will throw on some blue jeans, her warm boots and wool socks, pull her hair back and wrap a scarf around her neck. Poor Ryan hasn’t seen his wife in something fancy almost since their wedding day. It’s hard to dress too sexy when attending a PTA meeting in 10 degree weather.

(Numbers refer to questions from a writing workbook I have.)


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