It is Sunday and the water is high. The people don’t have much to do but wait for it to subside. When it finally peels back we will all gather to peer at the chaos that lies beneath. It is a helpless feeling. The River People feverishly scoured the changing forecasts that once said everything would be okay and then took it back again, like a fickle six year old child with his favorite toy. That is not intended as a criticism, it is just the Nature of these things. Unpredictable.
This time last year I found myself emerging from a great personal trial. It wasn’t just a relationship gone bad, but a public humiliation. A stripping down of my ego. A devastation of my pride.
The only choice I found was to run away to the river. An answer would be found there, I was certain. I drove for eight hours to Hannibal, Missouri and there encountered a disturbing scene. A young man approached me at the river and tendered his personal life story about how his father had been burned alive and how he had been left to fend for himself in this world. While he told me his story I heard ‘The World I Have Known’ by Collective Soul floating out from a riverside bar. He grabbed me by my arms with great force and told me to leave his town and never come back.
I drove away in tears through a ferocious thunderstorm and slept in a truck stop parking lot. At 3 a.m. I received an email from the troubled man I had met and the message contained one word in the subject line: “Epiphany”.
A few days ago I returned to the town to which I had run for respite from my life. This time I wanted to find real redemption in Hannibal. I went to a cemetery that overlooked the Mississippi. I watched the sun rise at a point called Lover’s Leap. I didn’t find the young man who seemed so desperate for help that night. But I did find my answer.
Sometimes we fail to see the gifts before us.
Sometimes we entertain angels unawares.
May we all know our gifts. May we entertain strangers and angels.
Do you know that tonight is the time of The Full Strawberry Moon? How strange you’d find yourself here with me on a night that celebrates the triumvirate of my favorite things: Moons…strawberries…and being full. Fleep! (I’m trying out new electronic expressions of excitement because I hate repeating popular phrases. I’ll die before I say Squee) Fleep! Just let me know how you think that works. . .
Speaking of strawberries, as a teenager I once thought to compete for Strawberry Queen in my rural northeastern Oklahoma hometown. When I looked into it, turns out, in order to be competitive for queen, one must be beautiful, articulate, poised and talented. But spare me your pity. I exacted my revenge for being less-than-queenish by using my sharp intellect to flunk out of my first year of college and losing a full scholarship from the Phillips Petroleum Company (no relation, obviously). That was a rough time. In desperation, I went to a community college to raise my GPA. I did this mainly because I knew I would one day attend law school in order to go into overwhelming student debt and earn a law degree I would later squander in order to write books and live in abject poverty.
After all my failures it was necessary to get a real job to prove myself worthy. A small understaffed hospital hired me as a desk clerk. This joint was so incompetent that they eventually stuck me back in the E.R., wherein I was expected to administer oxygen and other tricksy medical jobs that might, in hindsight, require training. If you take nothing else from this post, faithful friend, you listen to these words, and you listen to them now: God forbid you should ever become terribly ill, but when you do, DO NOT SEEK TREATMENT AT THAT HOSPITAL. I will be discreet here and leave out the specific name of that particular facility because above all else, my parents raised a classy lady.
Well LoveMuffin, I’ve gone and done what I swore I would never do. You can see for yourself this here is my page of webs. It’s a joint wherein you may purchase my books should you choose to bankroll my ridiculously irresponsible lifestyle. In the alternative you may also read a selection of my essays here for free. I’ll tell some stories and attempt to crack a few jokes on an optimistically regular basis. You can also receive big-time announcements and otherwise attempt to fill the black hole of my heart with your fickle adoration. No pressure. But if you’d rather not witness me emotional-eat a baker’s dozen cupcakes, go on up there to the top of the site and send us your email address. We’ll keep her confidential, acourse, and I’ll send you updates here and there. I promise not to bug you too much.
The very best part about this site is that it will eventually serve as a safe online forum for junior high and high school writers to interact and receive support from published authors and writers. A Word of Encouragement, you see.
I think that will do for our introduction and first online blarg. One last parting piece of advice:
“Keep looking up because you never know what’s coming down*.” ~Bruce
I’ll have more for you here later in the week. We’ll enjoy a spooky story next time with just a touch of redemption. Arrivederci, y’all.
*Quote credit goes to my good but dead friend Bruce who, interestingly enough, never let me down.