DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN! I picked the wrong effing year to give up drinking for Lent. Please wave your hand and make two bottles of Fume Blanc appear on my doorstep. And I’ll give up television instead, okay?
Of course I knew who you were, but you did not know me. I was just a young writer crying in the Amtrak waiting room at Penn Station, rejected by her agent, watching the melting snow stain my suede boots.
You did not have my problems. You were published. You were famous. You had spats.
I had just been told, after toiling over a novel for two years, a manuscript my agent had approved chapter by chapter, that she didn’t like what she had “approved”. That my first novel should really have a character closer to my own persona.
Write what you know? Please. How cliche. How trite. How asinine that I took the Acela, thinking we’d be celebrating with champagne.
But the Acela is what led me to you, Tom Wolfe. Who sat near me in the station and offered me a kind smile.
I didn’t speak, didn’t dare ask you for advice through my tears. I feared the way my day was going, you would say something even more banal, like “show, don’t tell!”
The White Suit, however, was the ultimate show.
Because on the train home, my heartbreak turned to fury. “I hate her” turned into “I’ll show her.” I came up with a new plot based on my own flaws and secrets. I wrote it in a fever. It nabbed me a new agent who sold it in an auction in ten days.
Because I was smiled on by angel. An angel in a white suit.
Do you wonder about the people you deliver to, as we wonder about you?
We wonder if you are an Olympic athlete, drawn to the good benefits for traveling and training. We wonder if you are a model or actor, in between jobs. We wonder if you are married. And if you have an older brother. Or maybe a hot dad.
Do you wonder if I am a writer, based on all the books you carry to my door? Or a dancer, because of the bright lululemon boxes?
Do you wonder why I spritz on perfume when I see you walking down my driveway?
You. Yes, you. You with the boundless energy. Enough to run a business and an organization, and still coach your sons’ soccer team. Always smiling, always cajoling, the customers loved you, trusted you. Who wouldn’t?
You hired people on instinct, you said, not on experience, not on age.
What did you see in me at age 15? Energy, intelligence? Or did you see in me the shyness, the uncertainty, that would make me freeze in confusion when you rubbed up against me in the dark back stairway? Turning a tight corner into a do-si-do that always ended in a rough full frontal “hug” up against the damp wall, a move I had no vocabulary word for.
Are you thinking of me now as you watch the news?
I remember your name.
But somehow I doubt you remember anything about me but my body.
There’s a reason you only compete every four years.
Because it takes time to train, to learn and re-learn, to fall, get up, and try again. Many of you have been at this since you were children. Back when it was play, when it was just fun to make the shapes, to feel the wind, to dream the dream.
It’s taken most of you ten years or more to get where you are today.
Yesterday, I told a writer that wanting to be published today is like wanting to be in the Olympics.
She didn’t like hearing that. Because she just wants to fly, and doesn’t want to fall.
But you know what I know – you need the muscle-memory of plummeting to appreciate the soaring beauty of rising up.