I was driving home from Hartford, CT last Sunday when it suddenly hit me that we’re entering a new season here on the East Coast. I never seem to notice the changes until everything is already bathed in gold and red. I know some people notice as soon as the weather dips or the birds start to head south but I think that because I am still a San Diegan in many ways, I just never think about seasons except to be sure my coat is dry cleaned before winter arrives.
Last Sunday was different. I was driving back to New York on the Merritt Parkway and I couldn’t help but notice how stunning the trees looked. It’s a shame that all of that beauty has to blow away and it’s even more of a shame that it takes months for the trees to regain their leaves, but I assume they don’t complain so I won’t either.
I do a lot of driving on purpose. Being alone in my car gives me a lot of time to think. On the way to Hartford I had this moment of real clarity. I have a new job. One in which my mind has to be ‘on’ at all times. I admit that it’s different than it was at the Cathedral. In so many ways, doing a good job there didn’t seem to matter as much as it should have. Too often, the leadership focused more on what was wrong than what was right and I never quite fit into that management style.
If I look around at what I’m doing now I have to be very honest and say that I am happier than I have been in years. I feel more confident, more focused and better able to think and it’s almost scary how many things I’ve had a chance to work on in just over a month.
And it’s not just about the new job. I launched another new site a few weeks ago. Or maybe it was a few days ago – to be honest, everything is rushing together so quickly I’m having a hard time keeping up with days versus weeks. I wanted to create a space for writers and readers to come together in a new way. The site is still a work in progress, but www.troiscoccinelles.com will one day be a retreat for writers – and those who love words – to have moments to stop and connect with each other and, if I get it right, with themselves.
I want it to become a modern Saratoga-style haven. It’s not something that will happen tomorrow or even next month but I have no doubt that it will take shape when the time is right.
On a larger scale, that’s what I want for my next ‘season’. Every time I write in this space I want to stop myself from writing about love – but I don’t know how to write about anything else. All I know is love and all I seem to write about is the search for finding it – the desire to get it right – and the redemption I always feel is right around the corner.
The difference is that over the past year all of the changes I’ve wanted to experience happened because I stopped holding out and just put one foot in front of the other – even when it was scary. Especially when it was scary.
What’s next? I honestly have no idea. I want to seriously train for a race next year and I’m going to Paris in just a few weeks (that’s how I count down to Paris, in weeks, not months) and I want to start video blogging here on Sundays and then I want to go out and start meeting some of the writers I love and then…
Then I don’t know. It almost doesn’t even stress me out that things are ‘what if’. Almost.
The title! I wanted to tell you about the title. “Come back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” – when I was 10 I saw Cher in the movie version of the Ed Grazcyk play and I was mesmerized by these women – fans – who come together on the 20th anniversary of James Dean’s death and share the secrets they’ve held onto for two decades. At ten, I didn’t understand how someone could hold onto someone for so long, keeping their memory so alive that facts didn’t matter – just hopes and ‘what ifs’ – and then in my 30s I created my own ‘five and dime’ fantasy. When the reality came throwing itself at me I wasn’t ready to admit I was guilty of creating a memory more than actually having remembered it correctly.
Now I understand the women of Marfa better than I ever imagined I could.
How fitting that Robert Altman’s ‘Five and Dime” won a major award in Chicago. That’s how life works. Things make sense when they’re ready to make sense.