I did not know Ray Bradbury. But he knew me. He knew me in the quickened response to that first crisp fall day, the smell of October. He knew me in the loving slap of sneakers against pavement and the softer thwap against dirt and the way that noise never stopped. He knew me in the push me-pull me fascination I had with the dark, with the unknown, the grotesque.
He knew exactly how badly I wanted to go to Mars. See a dinosaur. Live forever. Fly.
He knew my love of dim libraries. Of movie theaters gone dark. Of foghorns.
He knew my love of monsters, my fear of monsters, my fear that we were the monsters, my wonder that so often we chose not to be. That sometimes we saved each other from the monsters. And sometime, even better, we saved the monster too.
He knew me in that so bittersweet intersection of past and future, that wonderfully torturous betwixt and between of having one hand stretching upward and outward, reaching forward to see what’s to come, while the other arm is stretched fully backward, that hand unwilling to unwind, unclench, to let go of all that was so sweet (and even not so sweet) behind.
Most of all, he knew my love of stories. And because of that, he knew before I did that I wanted to be a writer. Though I eventually figured it out. I never thanked him for that. But I figure that’s OK. He probably knew.