It’s rainy, cold, and Celtic as hell out there on this March afternoon in New York. If I ever mention the weather in my writing, you know it is exactly this kind of day. The heavy fog is the perfect screen for my imagination to play out its most fabulous, fantastical visions. This almost makes up for the loneliness, nostalgia, and “what would life be life if only I had…” thinking that soaks through me. I have a great library of memories and stories to wander through as I stare into the mist, tea cup clutched to my heart. But Outlander has been romancing the collective imagination lately, so it’s easiest for my daydreams to gallop off to join Claire and Jamie in the Highlands.
The Frasers belong to anyone willing to pay for premium cable now, so it’s no longer a private reverie. Back when I first discovered Diana Gabaldon’s first novel at 15, it felt like an unknown otherworld. Occasionally the books would find their way into conversation and it would be like finding a member of the underground “Je suis prest” sorority, but generally the series felt like a guilty pleasure you couldn’t really discuss in mixed company.
Now, I’ve gone and given copies to my mother-in-law and my stepmom. My husband is working his way through book 2 and I fully expect my dad to give it a try soon. The television gods have ushered these stories off the pages where we could only imagine the look in Jamie Fraser’s slanted green eyes. Outlander makes the cover of Entertainment Weekly and their whole world has emerged into the culture with such confidence and acclaim that I almost forget it contains a dozen scenes I’d rather die than discuss at a holiday dinner.
And yet, I find these are still secret stories. I can only write about the external phenomenon of sharing the books and watching the show, not the thoughts that swirl around me on a quiet gray day halfway around the world from Craigh na Dun. These visions are still mine, intimate as a reader alone with a book or a couple whispering together in the night.
Claire and Jamie belong to everyone now, but in the most important ways, they will always belong to me alone. If you knew and loved them once upon a time, they’ll always belong to you too.