Things happen in periods, at least they have for me. Currently, I’m in transition, after pressing reset on my life a couple of years ago. That’s how I look at it, anyway.
The nomad’s life continues. I’m going to be in the Orlando area for a couple of months. More later on what happens beyond that. I’ll probably write a book about this period eventually. Maybe I’ll borrow from Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities for the opening line. Mostly it has been the worst of times, though. No one want to be in my situation, really.
Where the positive attitude about my writing comes from is a deep, perhaps insane, belief in the stories. At some point in my past I decided to change directions about becoming a writer. Most of my cult life elapsed in the process as I made a lot of memories. I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything but, then again, I think I made enough mistakes to want to do it over. We don’t have those choices in life, apart from letting our characters in books explore the other possibilities.
I think I was running away from a lot of things when I was younger. People do that. Young people do it a lot. And then you wake up hungover, look int he way to early morning’s mirror and with your bloodshot eyes you can’t believe all the lines your face has earned along the way. Your hair is gray and the details are fuzzy about how you got to the point in life where you have three adult children, an ex-wife and a life that is only about the routine.
In 1995, my son and I flew to Florida to visit my parents, mostly. I’d taken my family to Connecticut at the behest of my company that was growing rapidly int he Northeast at the time. I preferred CT to FL except that most of my other family had wound up living there. When I returned to Connecticut, I brought back more than just my son and our baggage. Although I had every reason to think I lived on top of the world, there were a lot of things wrong with my life.
I had it all. My wife at the time had talked me into building a home in a nice Connecticut neighborhood. It was huge. My kids referred to it as a castle. I had a good job with stock options that if I had held onto them I would certainly be in a different place than I am right now. The school system where we lived was excellent. So there really wasn’t much that that anyone could see that was wrong with my life. Superficially I had it all.
Somehow , somewhere, probably while in Florida, some bacteria got into my bloodstream – both staph and strep. Nasty things especially since I had a heart murmur that had been diagnosed while I was in the Air Force serving in Korea. I was so sick I went home early from work – something I had never done before. And the following day my wife called the store to tell my manager I was still sick. I thought I had the flu, but never had I had anything hit me like that.
The bacteria destroyed one of my heart valves, the one that caused my heart murmur. Had I not been seeing a cardiologist, I would have probably died. My wife forced me to see him first thing on Monday and after some tests, he put me in the hospital. After a months of treatment they decided I needed my valve replaced. All in all, I was out of work from mid April to Mid August.
On salary with my company and with pretty good health benefits, I didn’t have to worry about in come. There was some wrestling with the insurance over paying the medical bills, though. I was lucky to have what I had. And anything else I might say about my ex-wife, she was the one who was there when I was sickest and she saw me through it.
That experience changed the way I thought about work, my life and my family, though. There was a deeper understanding of what was important. Also, while I had a fever for many days that was above 103 F, I had hallucinations that I remembered. Wild things about wars and strange creatures, crazier things that I had ever dared to write. Before that I tinkered with a novel I started back when I was in college, before taking the detour of the rest of the my life. Those images in my mind became an obsession for me, making their way into my stories.
The biggest change in me was that I paid more attention to things. I’m nor sure I’d call it spending more time with my family, but I was more aware of things. To that point my work was the most important thing. That was messed up. Maybe the obsession shifted to my writing over time, but for a while there I was into playing Dad a lot more than before.
It has taken a lot of time to get to where I am now, pretty much homeless and destitute except for my dreams. And I have never given up on them. Three months from now my next book comes out and everything changes, but that process has already begun. I won’t go back. That’s now how I’m wired. Things may get crazy in the short term with everything I have to do to get the book finished on time. There are a couple of other things I’ll be judging at the same time. But I think this is the right direction, finally. I’m doing what I set out to do a long time ago.