Tuesday, June 28, 2016

WHEN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS COME TRUE

     Once upon a time, a young girl dreamed of being a writer. She imagined walking into a bookstore and lifting a novel from the shelf, seeing her name on the cover, her face in the author section. There would be author events, where folks would come and buy her book and she would be asked to sign and take pictures.
     Later, this girl dreamed bigger, imagining more than one book on shelves, possibly even a book accepted by a publishing company! She would be invited to talk to students, young readers and writers, to share her story and encourage young writers to be brave enough to tell their own tales.
     In her wildest dreams, the woman saw her own writing idol/mentor/motivator reading her novel, and greedily, also imagined hearing from said idol about the powerful story she'd written.
     These were my personal fairy tales, dreamed up and whispered about to my loving partner as we settled in at night's end.
     I still remember him nudging me to send in my first novel for self-publishing. "It's only your life long dream," he'd scolded. So, I did it. I hit send...and waited. Then, I worked my ass off for half a year in order to get it published.
     I still remember holding the first proof copy in my hands, a solid book, my name on the cover beside an orange poppy. He took my picture, and I didn't care that I wore not a lick of make-up. I plastered that picture everywhere! One of my proudest moments!
     Standing in a packed and crowded Bestseller's that summer at the Flowers for Rodney debut was surreal. My young girl's dreams were playing out, and I pinched myself to be sure I wasn't going to wake up surrounded by my childhood menagerie of stuffed animals, still dreaming; but, it was real.
     Fast forward to my second novel, They Said She Was Crazy, picked up by Tate Publishing, including my picture and author page. Bringing an inscribed copy with me to Manhattan, New York for Book Riot Live 2015, I nervously awaited my chance to give my (unbeknownst to her) writing idol, Laurie Halse Anderson, what I consider my most powerful piece of writing to date. It was more than I could have dreamed. Her eyes teared up, there were hugs and thanks, and I floated away...and waited.
     Over the next six months I posted gentle nudges, reminders, pleas to LHA: 'Just wondering if you've had a chance...', 'Long flight to China might be a great time to read...', etc. I didn't want to harass, but I so wanted her to read my work. Of course, I wondered, what if she'd already read it but hadn't commented because she didn't like it? Plus, I didn't want to become someone that my 'BFF' felt the need to avoid, so I continued waiting, and quit worrying.
     As the adage states, a watched pot never boils. Last Friday I came inside and casually checked my phone. Without thinking, I clicked on 'Messenger', read the new message. Reread. Reminded myself to breathe. There, on my screen, upper right corner, 'Laurie Halse...' As if I needed her full name? She'd read my novel. She thanked me for sharing. She wrote that it was 'devastating and powerful.' My idol read my book! She thanked ME! She described it as powerful!
     I'm not quite sure it's truly sunk in yet, or that I've taken a full, deep lungful of air since last week. What I do know, is that sometimes dreams really do come true. What I wonder is, what the hell am I supposed to do now? When something seen as so ridiculously out of reach happens, what's the next step? I've been pondering that since seeing that message on my phone. It was scary, actually, thinking of future goals. Now that some of mine have happened, it seems more important to create new dreams for myself.
     Once upon a time, a fifty-something woman dreamed...and dreamed some more...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

FUNKY FATHER'S DAY

     Holidays lean toward the difficult level on my survivor scale, though Father's Day hasn't usually set me off. Usually...a ridiculous term when describing the path of grief.

     I woke this morning, feeling the room spinning when I rolled over to check the time. Hangover impossible, since no alcohol has entered my system in awhile. Settling in, taking a few breaths, a migraine approach seemed possible; perhaps a flu bug, as last night an aching beneath skin level appeared. It passed. I rose, tentative, but moving.

     Since my own father was on the road, traveling home after a southern visit, I called and chatted, wishing him, of course, a happy day. Learning postpartum, so to speak, of a 90th birthday celebration, where 'there was quite a crowd' of long since seen relatives, I felt myself begin the slide down into Funky Town. Not the Funky Town of my college years, swiveling and gyrating gleefully on the dance floors, but my New Normal's Funky Town.

     "Just keep swimming," as Dory reminds us, so I decided to reorganize my writing room, which used to be Robbie's room. (Yes, I know. I hear your sighs and eye rolls even as you read of this well thought out choice.) Since painting the living room, all the pictures have been stacked on the large book shelf now relegated to my "Writing Room." I began at the top, wiping off the dust, quickly making choices of which pile each should be placed upon: Give to Katie, put up in living room, or put up in Writing Room.

     Of course, this was a bad decision. Of course, I should know better than to browse pictures once the trip down the oiled slip-n-slide has started. Of course, I picked up one framed photo after the next.

Katie's six month old montage of red velvet dress poses should go to her, as should her softball team composite. But, what of Robbie's baseball picture? I've always hung them together, one more memory held beneath glass between oak stained frames. They'd hung on my hallway wall for nine years, yet the idea of hammering nails and replacing them overwhelms me now. 

Robbie's baby face, his soft blue, striped Snoopy onesie, fuzzy hair haloing his punkin' head...how can it hurt so much to see this now? I've walked past it dozens, even hundreds of times, touched my fingers to his beautiful face. Smiled. Moved on and finished my day.

     My 3 stacks were quickly obsolete as memories flashed with each photograph. Frame after frame went into the bottom of the bookshelf instead, where I can close the doors and deal with them later...or never perhaps. I hear my counselor telling me, of course it hurts. To not hurt we need to take away all of the love. Never! Y
et, moments like this, when my heart is freshly breaking, wringing my guts, angry tears making me blind...moments like this beg for relief. No one can comfort this pain, ease the ache of a mother missing her only son.

     So all the pictures of my son, for now, remain stacked neatly and safely. I know they're there. I don't know how long it might be, before I am able to watch the videos, peruse the albums, or hang up the pictures.

     What I do know, is that I don't have to have answers to these questions today, or tomorrow, or until I'm ready.

     For today, hanging prints and artwork will be enough. Writing, will be enough. Robbie understands, and that will be enough for today.