Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Teenage Garage Sale with Variant author Robison Wells

Welcome to Robinson Wells today, author of Variant who is here to share with us some memories of the teenage years.:)

So, I’m not sure if I understand this correctly: If I was selling all of this stuff at a garage sale, that would mean that I don’t like it, right? If there was something I was selling as a teenager, then it wouldn’t matter much, so I’m going to change the rules: this isn’t a teenage garage sale; it’s a museum of my teenage years.

A collection of Supertramp CDs: No I’m not old enough that I was into Supertramp when they first came out (in the seventies), but for whatever reason I latched onto them as a teenager. I think it first was because of the kitsch of it—I mean, they have an album called “Breakfast In America”—but they started growing on me to the point where I owned all their albums and listened to them constantly. (I’m mostly over them now. Mostly.)

A fishing tackle box full of oil paints: Long before I ever thought about writing, my creative outlet was in the visual arts. My mom signed me up for an oil painting class when I was about eleven, and I really fell in love with it. (I don’t mean to brag, but I once took fourth place in the Utah State Fair. I’m kind of a big deal.) Sadly, writing has taken all my painting time away, and I haven’t done anything in years.

A road sign: In typical teenage fashion, my friends and I went through a phase when we would try to acquire (steal) the best signs we could find. We made a rule that we’d never do anything unsafe—no stealing STOP signs, or anything like that—but we got a lot of awesome ones. And, fortunately, one of our friends had a bus stop in front of his house, and we’d re-hang our stolen signs in front of his place: my favorite was a sign from the cemetery directing hearses toward the correct entrance. As you can imagine, my friend’s dad was not happy about this kind of thing.

A drafting table: In addition to painting, I briefly worked as a teenager drawing houses for real estate advertisements. I’m not great at drawing other things, but I can draw the heck out of a tract home.

My student government sweater: I think I ran for office every single year of junior high and high school, and never won, and then my senior year came around and I ran and lost AGAIN. But then they created a new position, held a special election, and I finally won! I was the Assembly Coordinator, which was a horrible job that I never would have taken had I not so desperately wanted to be in student government.

A 1972 Chevy Impala: This was my first car (and, since you don’t know how old I am, it was more than twenty years old when I had it). My dad bought it from someone for $300, and it ran about as well as you’d expect for a $300 car. The main benefit of the car was that it was indestructible—it was made of solid steel. More than once, as I was backing into the driveway, I hit the concrete side stairs and heard horrible scraping only to jump out and see the car was completely unscathed—not even a scratch in the paint.

Playbills from numerous shows: I came from a singing and dancing family, and we (all of us, Mom and Dad included) ended up heavily involved in community theater. Although I did my share of acting and singing (I could NEVER figure out how to dance), I ended up falling in love with the backstage stuff, and eventually worked for years doing set design.

How fun! I come from a theater family too! I love that you guys all got involved together. I can't tell you how many times I get that look when family members ask me why I'm not involved with a show.: P Thanks so much for stopping by today!!

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Teenage Garage Sale with Variant author Robison Wells + TIME