Had I not taken the risk of being alone again or had the courage to finally define myself as I knew in my heart I could be … I would not have packed up decades of living into a moving van. I would have never taken that plane to Miami and heaven knows … I would have never rented that awful economy car and driven it on the dreaded I95 to Boca Raton.
If I had not smiled at another woman in a computer class or engaged her friendship, I would have never gone to Parkland Cafe writer’s group, nor found my true voice at last.
If I had not nagged and questioned my daughter about what a “blog” was, or had the nerve to write the first post, I would have never met Christi Corbett, or joined Writers Digest’s now defunct on line community, and I would have never met PK Hrezo or found a bevy of YA and mixed genre generation X’ers who don’t seem to question so much of life as boomers seem to do.
These last five years have contained some of the most frightening, exciting and confusing changes in my life. In a word … they were a blast!
It is true that all we can depend upon in life is that it changes. Yet oddly, it remains much the same as before. Not a repetitious circle or a 180 degree swivel of the compass.
No, I believe our life is lived in spirals that move upward to an unknown end … the same … yet different.
Last summer I experienced tremendous change and upheaval. Being the rooted type, I tend to nest, to settle my roots deep … to avoid major changes at any cost. Yet change came and at a very steep emotional price. The money part wasn’t much fun either.
I stood in front of my little cottage and thought … how can this be? How can I be standing here in front of a place I saw such a long, long time ago in a dream? How can I put the little key in the door and begin over again?
Yet, I have begun again … anew … alone and quite sure that this time, I have found the place where I was meant to be in that long ago dream.
Baum created the Oz series of stories as allegories of what our life might bring. The most commercially successfully being The Wizzard of Oz with Dorothy, her ruby red slippers, and her trusted traveling companions.
How then did she come to find these trusted sidekicks? As she tried to ask Glenda … what if I come to a—. But before she could ask, Glenda rose in her bubble and left Dorothy at the beginning of the path … to take the first step on the yellow brick road … alone.
What should she do if she comes to a crossroad? And Baum set the lesson of the story, couched it if you will, along the yellow brick road at each crossroad.
What if Dorothy had not stopped to help the Scarecrow? She might never had taken that turn in the road that led her to The Tin Man. And had she not felt compassion for the poor Tin Man and his quest for a heart … they might never have ventured into the forest and found the Cowardly Lion.
What might have happened had I not stopped at the crossroads with its arrows pointing, one to Boca Raton and a packed storage unit, the other to an unknown location and an open carton of yellowing journal notes?
Or the night I stood over those journals about to toss them into the trash and saw the arrow pointing outward? When in one fleeting moment of clarity, I pushed them back into the carton, purchased a computer, and changed the course of my life.
What on earth would I have done with the thousands of stories crammed into the recesses of my brain, stuffed in a battered old suitcase, a tramp steamer trunk or the stacks of old legal pads, had I not let the arrow point to a new day?
The week before I left The City, my usefulness and my youth both waning, I turned to an old friend. She was eighteen years my senior and enjoyed the fantasy that if God had given her a girl it would have been someone like myself who preferred jeans and t-shirts to silk blouses.
Looking at my attire I had to accept she was right. In the end I had taken all of my culture, training, and her valuable lessons in proper attire, and put them back comfortably into a pair of jeans and skippy sneakers.
Back to the tomboy image, the persona I chose to be.
And although it distressed her, I had already accepted this image gladly. We sat on her terrace sipping vodka martinis. A practice I must admit I no longer enjoyed. The drink somehow didn’t taste as good … the buzz was gone … and alas … the thrill of being the “bad girl” was also gone.
Her face was still magnificent and she could still stop traffic when she walked across the avenue … but something was new in her eyes. Was it the recognition that our loving friendship was about to come to an abrupt end? Where had I been she asked? Thinking and packing, I told her.
Can’t you see the time for you is now?
We talked for hours. She told me I was fast approaching … the third and last stage of my life. The third, she promised was a kicker. In a few hours I was in a cab riding along the East River watching the bridges and the night sky. “Go out and live the last part of your life. It’s the only one that is just for you.”
Just for me? I worried. Was there enough time left to roll in the grass again … to ride my bike along the Brooklyn Narrows … take a trolley ride and listen for the merry bells … to take long walks along the ocean or do more than watch as life passed before me in a grand procession?
All change brings us back to ourselves …
Yes, I am again dipping into the primordial pool … warm and milky and new. Unlike the days of bruised knees, pom-poms and high school dances … of proper dresses and lady like behavior or the sojourn to protests and rebellion. Now the spiral of my life rises to new heights and the girl in her jeans and loose shirts is finally happy with herself.
I’ve also learned that the best time of your life is the one you are living now.
She is frozen in time … my little lioness … her toothy grin coming back from a photograph … calling out to me.
“Slide down my rain barrel and we’ll be jolly friends forever more.”
Does a jolly friend beckon you to enjoy this time of your life?
Pray tell … are you truly happy with who you are?