Your love is my soft landing.
Many of my friends who have stayed with me through these years are also leaving their blogs, and just now it feels kind of like the end of an era. Perhaps the personal blog has gone out of fashion. Maybe it is just entirely too much to maintain with any sort of enthusiasm. I have often wondered if I should leave this space and go forward into a new project. But even if it feels lonely here in my little blog corner, I still have an impulse and a desire to write. And this space feels like a comfortable old shoe. So for now, I will write at least one more post...and this one is in order to share a gift.
Those of you on fb know that I love Elizabeth Gilbert. This year I did something completely self indulgent and purchased a single ticket to hear her speak in Asheville, North Carolina. I rationalized that since Richard loves the mountains, we could fit in a hike and camp overnight. But as the date neared, Richard decided that this type of occasion required better accommodations. He spoiled me by reserving a comfortable hotel room and later splurged on a delicious Italian meal before the event. This weekend I noticed little connections to "Eat, Pray, Love" as if it were a theme, minus the divorce.
Included in this unplanned theme was the mystery and excitement of travel. On a reconnaissance mission to orient ourselves for parking and navigating, we decided to explore the UNCA campus before dinner. Granted, Asheville is not Indonesia, but its location in the high country makes it feel as if you are visiting a place separated from the rest of the world. UNCA felt like a different kind of university, unlike the ones I am familiar with here in the Piedmont. It felt very secluded and intimate. The entrance was a long drive through a botanical garden (so appropriate to set the mood for a talk on The Signature of All Things). What was supposed to be a mission to establish our whereabouts (so I wouldn't feel rushed and have to run in my dainty sandals with heels) became a romantic walk under tall hemlocks and through blooming botanical gardens. Once we neared the general area, I entered the Ramsey library with its beautiful old library smell and sacredly silent walls to ask about the event location. The young man behind the desk relayed the directions and mentioned that he was also working at the event. He wondered if I had purchased my tickets already, generously offering that there were a few left if I needed more.
After a fantastic meal at Pomodoro's, we drove back to campus, hoping that there might still be a few tickets left. We were having so much fun together that Richard and Elliot decided that they would attend if it wasn't sold out. Which it did.
At the entrance of the auditorium, I suddenly felt as if my family date was being disrupted; that we were going to have to be separated because of my selfish purchase of the single ticket. But Richard told me to go in and have a great time. He would wait for me during all of it, the talk, the book signing and the pictures. He would take Elliot and go exploring. Before leaving to have their guy-time adventure, Elizabeth Gilbert walked by with a smile and said "nice dog!"
Once inside, I found a seat near the front and experienced something unexpected. A fluttering in my heart bubbled up, just like it does during Meeting for Worship. I felt the presence of the Spirit with me. Other women in attendance describe that as "the energy in the room."
The energy kept rising as Liz spoke to the crowd of women and men in the auditorium. After a brief introduction, she read a passage from her new novel, and then spent the rest of the evening answering questions. I raised my hand and asked if she had written a childhood memoir, and if so would she ever publish it. She responded in a serious tone (different from her usual up-beat humor) that "every writer waits until someone they love dies before they are able to write those stories. I do plan to write mine, but I am still waiting."
Her answer helped me to have peace about a conflict in my own heart. I also have stories that must wait. There is no need to rush to make public the stories that helped me to become who I am.
I also loved Liz's explanation on the interconnectedness of memoir and fiction. She said, "fiction writing is like writing memoir and memoir is like writing fiction: in memoir you are creating a version of yourself that people close to you might say "but you're not like that at all!"
So I felt encouraged to go forward in experimenting with fiction and to be less intimidated by the idea of research...which is a good remedy for my lack of imagination. Perhaps through fiction, I will discover that I have written my memoir, leaving not facts and dates and actual people, but thoughts and feelings and the impression of complex relationships.
It was an enriching, happy and energizing experience.
Then came the standing in line part. Which would have been fun...all those happy, smiling women to connect with! Except that since I've made a huge change in my diet...leaving sugar for more fiber...I have been regularly gassy. So while waiting in line, I'm praying "please don't fart, please don't fart, please don't fart, especially next to Liz..."
Once at the book signing table, I told Liz how much I loved her fb page, and thanked her for such giving. In person, she is warm and open and kind. She hugged me close to her side during our picture together.
God was merciful... the other talking end of my being stayed silent.
When I came out to greet my patient husband, son and dog, who could see the book signing through the tall glass windows, Richard commented on how Liz was different from the typical famous person. He was impressed by her warmth toward people.
Elliot excitedly told me about a stone labyrinth and all the hidden places he explored. I was so happy and relieved to be reunited so that we could continue our Asheville adventure. I realized that while it's great to be independent and do things for myself, I enjoy experiences much more when I can share them with my family.
And so I have something to share with you...a signed copy of The Signature of All Things in paperback.
Please leave a comment either here or on my fb link to this post. I will choose a winner through a random number generator. If you are chosen, I will contact you through fb and ask for your mailing address.
Good luck to all!
P.S...we had so much fun exploring: