I spent my day at LaGuardia, trying to fly out on Delta, which for some reason was having weather delays when none of the other airlines seemed to be having a problem. And now I’m in a Marriott, having been bumped to the next day. This gives me time to think, usually an iffy proposition but tonight a good thing. And what I think right now is, change is good, especially sudden and unexpected change.
Thursday, I went to the Met with Krissie to meet my friend Dale for lunch, and as I said in the last post, Dale brought John Saul and Mike Sack. I hadn’t talked with them for months, and when I saw them there in the light-filled lobby, I felt everything lift, just the sheer joy of seeing good people I loved, and I opened my arms to them because who wouldn’t? and hugged them and then hugged them again, and laughed, and then went to lunch and laughed again, just delighted to be with such wonderful people, my friends. But the thing is, if I’d known John and Mike were going to be there, I’d have been just as happy, but I wouldn’t have had that soaring moment in the Met lobby while security searched my bag and I laughed out loud to see them. That moment of sheer joy when everything changed . . . wonderful.
Friday, I went for drinks with my agent, Meg, and when I saw her sitting at the table behind a pillar, I knew something was wrong. She looked so strained, and Meg never does, she’s always who-loves-ya-baby upbeat. I sat down and said, out of the blue, before I even knew what was happening, “You’re firing me, aren’t you?” And we talked about what we both knew, that I wanted my career to go in a different direction than she did, and she said, “I think you should find a new agent.” And I thought, This can’t be happening, but I said, “Any suggestions?” not “Wait, we can work this out.” And we talked and hugged each other because she’s truly one of my best friends, and then I went back to the Village and thought, Everything’s new again. That moment of sheer panic when everything changed . . . liberating.
Last week, out of the blue, I had the inexplicable urge to finish my PhD. It’s been hanging fire for over ten years, but suddenly the need was there. And because I am impulsive, I e-mailed good people at OSU and said, “Can I come back and finish?” and by the end of the day, I had half of my committee and a welcome back from the head of the English Department. Then I had a moment of doubt. What the hell was I doing? I have novels to write and I need to write them fast because I’m behind again, and people are expecting a lot of me, and I have no time . . . but underneath all of that was the certainty that it was the right thing to do, finish the unfinished past and move into a new future. And then I began to think of a new diss topic and realized why I wanted to finish now: I want to research collaboration, why creative people come together to make art instead of pursuing inspiration in solitude; I realized that collaboration is more than just fun for me, it’s part of a creative evolution, changing me and my work, forcing me to grow and I want to know why. That moment of impulse when I e-mailed OSU and everything changed. . . illuminating.
So today, when I tried to fly out of LaGuardia and sat through delay after delay, I thought about the week, so many things had happened, so much laughter with Lani and Krissie and Mollie, so many good friends to have lunch and dinner with, so many surprises and so much change. And when my flight was cancelled five hours after it was supposed to have left, I walked into the quiet of a hotel room that wasn’t Ohio or New York, where I had no responsibilities and no one to come to my door, crawled into an amazing bed, and thought about the future–the trip to Australia and New Zealand, going back for the PhD, finding a new agent, writing Always Kiss Me Goodnight and Dogs and Goddesses—and knew there would be surprises, gifts from the universe and reversals, too, some things will be wonderful and some won’t, but all of it will be interesting.
Which reminded me of the best death-bed story I’d ever heard, about a wonderful guy dying of AIDS who’d lived his life well, and who, right before he died surrounded by loving family and friends, looked past them all as if he saw something in the distance, and said, “Well, this should be interesting.” Which reminded me that my favorite Tarot card is Death. Change. The idea that there is something new around the corner which is what keeps us going around the corner. And I knew that I am one lucky woman.
It’s been a good week on the road.