Monday, December 13, 2010

All it takes is to jump

Action. When it comes to aspirations, it's not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

My brother sent me an email the other day proposing a Christmas present for my parents. A tandem jump from Triangle Skydiving.. under $150. George Bush (41) had done it... well, not with Bar. For a moment I imagined my mother's gray curls waving in the wind, my father's grimace as he faced the ground. My grandmother never rode a bicycle, so given all the change in the world since then, why not this for a couple of 82-year-olds?

No. I want them both to live a lot longer.

I remember jumping. Way back when I was 23, I had an idea. Stuck in a mediocre (and poorly-paid) newspaper job at a very bad newspaper, I imagined myself as a "real writer," at a big city newspaper somewhere, anywhere, outside the town 30 miles from my parents and a relationship that really wasn't going anywhere. I pulled out my trusty Olivetti and typed up a bunch of letters to newspapers around. And actually mailed them at the P.O. The N&O, the Atlanta Journal, The Charlotte Observer, among others, telling them how much I wanted to work for their newspaper  —I had never even seen the Atlanta paper or been to Atlanta, and had only read the Charlotte paper in college — attaching copies of my poorly-edited clips with the typos I have now become famous for. I don't recall hearing from any of them... maybe a form letter from the N&O.  

Desperate for change, I called the j-school alumni office, asking them if they had a job, ANY job, I might apply to. Yes, they said, in Augusta, Ga., a feature writing job in the "Family" department. And guess what? Someone in my class was already there. And she loved it. All I knew about Augusta was that it was no place to be, but so was where I was.

So, that letter went out, with the aforementioned clips, and whattayaknow? I got a phone call. Come down, the editor said. So I did.

That visit would change my life. I got the job, found an exceptional editor who with some tough love made me the real writer I had imagined myself being. And I met the man that very day who right now is walking the dog in a very bad looking Russian hat. (wish I had my camera at home) I knew he would be more than important to my life when he was opening the passenger door of my editor's car, for me to slip inside.

Six years later, we left the Land of Adventure with our two kids and a dog, heading back to N.C. and yet another adventure. I began to write again after four years of not, discovered my voice, helped my children discover theirs.


Today, it feels like I am on the cusp again, desperate for change. Not out of a bad relationship  or a dead-end job, but from myself. I hover, wading through my days but envisioning the sky jump I can't quite sign up for. I have two novels I haven't finished. A life that needs uncluttering. I have the ideas, but making them happen? I have a big ol' boulder on my chest weighing me down.

Today I have been thinking about that 23-year-old and what motivated her to step out of her safe but unsettled life and do something. JUMP! She had ideas, and somehow being stuck gave her the courage to  step off the firm ground that held her, hoping somehow she would land on her feet. She knew not one soul in Augusta, Ga., but it proved just the place to land, to be.

And so, as this year closes, I have a few ideas. I want to find that voice that says you have the parachute, now jump! The place where I can put one word in front of (or behind) another, to finish what I started. To imagine one more time to jump, to see where I am headed and to land on my feet.