It was seven years ago today that I started this blog. I’ve shared so many stories and thoughts and opinions. I’ve heard your feedback, friends and readers and family. I’ve shared some very personal moments, past and present. I’ve cried to you, I’ve laughed with you. When I lost one of my biggest cheerleaders, Jessica DeDeo, I lost a little of the will to continue, but I kept on. Some of the joy was definitely gone and I began writing with less frequency. Then another big cheerleader, Jeff Robson, passed in January and my excitement about continuing this blog took another hit. I started to think about the blog and where it has been and where it was going. I was becoming convinced that some of the stories I’d been considering sharing would fit better as complete short stories or as a scene in a larger work. My novel-writing was definitely taking a hit. With constantly thinking of things to blog about and constructing the posts, my true passion and ultimate goal of publishing a book was suffering. A major turning point was imminent.
Last month I attended a writers conference in Tennessee. It was fabulous, confidence-boosting and eye-opening. On the car ride home, quite excited about submitting the YA novel to both agents to whom I had pitched it, I had a revealing conversation with my friend Lisa. As we began reflecting on the many road trips we’d taken over the past twenty years–our first one having been in 1997 with one of her childhood friends–I said that I was going to start a series of blogs about them. I’d already written a few short stories about some of them that although hadn’t been published, had elicited positive comments from editors and a request to hear more.
. “Our trips are not blog stories,” she said. “You need to write a book about them. That’s the story you need to tell.”
. True. Every time I share with someone one of my road stories–visiting a serial killer in San Quentin, the guy in Vegas who dropped his pants outside our door at a Motel 6, the time one of my friends was swarmed by bugs in New Mexico and fell inside someone else’s hotel room, when the three ladies in my car spotted our favorite rock star on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and decided to follow him home even though California has strict stalking laws–the listener always says with mouth dropped open, “You need to write about this!” An editor had written on one of my submissions (which yes, she declined to publish in her magazine), “OMG, I would love to be in this car with you. Please send me more!” I decided Lisa was right–my trip stories should be a book. That night in our Macon hotel room I wrote an outline of the fifty states and D.C. with notations about the highlights that had occurred in each one. I fell about ten states short of a good story, so how terrible for a road tripper like me that I’ll have to visit or re-visit some of them. Something else that occurred to me while sketching out the book was that three of our gal pal road trippers are no longer in my life–one I had a falling out with, one just kind of fizzled away and the other died. My father died two months after I returned from my first road trip. My brother died during one of them. My niece Jessica–who joined me on two major road trips from coast to coast–died two years ago. So it’s not only a trip through America, but a trip through life. It’s a story not only of adventure and comedy, but love and loss. My trip to Hawaii–although I didn’t drive there because, duh, you can’t–was taken because my family had to use the plane tickets we cancelled a month earlier because Jessica’s death made it impossible for any of us to enjoy the cruise we’d planned. Hawaii was beautiful and soothing and one of the best places I’ve ever visited. I also cried half the time I was there because Jessica was dead. Every thought in my head–Oooh, that’s so majestic (but Jessica will never see it because she’s dead). The water is so calm and healing (but Jessica’s still dead). Time to buy souvenirs (but none for Jessica because she’s dead). My God, you know who would find that so funny right now? (Jessica, but you can’t tell her about it because she’s dead). I wish I could stop crying (but the person I always called to help me stop crying was Jessica and she’s the reason I’m crying because she’s dead)–was followed by one of Jessica. These are the parts of a road trip that make it a relatable and sharable yet entirely unique experience. It is a string of experiences I intend to share all wrapped together in one volume.
My other reason for deciding to end the blog here was because it’s just time. Is it apropos to label it a seven year itch? No. It’s just kind of timely that things would work out this way, that I would come to this conclusion seven years down the road. In this current social climate–which I seriously hope goes away soon–where everyone is afraid to express their real opinions for fear someone will try to destroy them or their career for some personal advancement agenda, I don’t find it necessary for me to add my two cents every week or month or whatever it may be. I don’t want to be some typing armchair critic (you like that, Eez? I said it!) whose every word will be scrutinized by someone trying to bring me down. I’m opinionated. I’m from Philly. I say nasty things. I say things I wish I hadn’t. I hurt people I love. I hurt people I don’t love. I don’t mean to, and I wish I could be pleasant and beautiful all the time. I can’t. None of us can. So now I want to focus on writing in character, on lending to the folks in my head all my negative and positive and non-existent qualities and let them speak for me and through me and to you.
Some of the blogs I’m really proud of? Luckily, quite a few, which is fabulous considering there’s 274 of them. But if you want to catch me at my best, may I suggest this small list: peeping Toms, my first love, naked and afraid, when ghosts attack, the left arm, water, tajazzle, farts on a plane, the homemade fan sign, return of the fan sign, gigolos on showtime, my god place, Florida stand your ground, my first kiss, hypnotized on a plane, friendship III, please do judge, born in the wild, I always knew you wouldn’t stay long, boobs, putting it away. Of course my muse blogs and Vegas Playgrounds and lingo and Crave also hold a special place for me. If you haven’t read, have a look.
Thank you, my beautiful babies, for taking these rides with me. I appreciate and treasure all your comments and sharings and likes. I hope I’ve entertained you, touched you, comforted you, made you feel a little more brave. I hope you laughed, and even cried. I hope I helped you find or avoid. I hope I helped you think and challenge. I hope I caused you to smile, relax, enjoy, realize something wonderful. I hope I caused you to like me. If I didn’t, I hope I didn’t give you cause to need to forgive me. If I did, I hope you did.
Peace, love, be well, and I hope to peek out at you from the shelves of bookstores and libraries across the world.