oh my good gracious Laaawwwwd, y’all! I did it. I hit send yesterday. several times.
if this is as far as The Anchor goes (no pun intended but laugh anyway,) I am beyond satisfied. A year ago today I started this project and yesterday I sent it out in to the universe. I have had so many amazing responses to this story and it positively overwhelms me. if all that ever comes out of hitting send is that fleeting moment of accomplishment, I will take that and run with it!
I have to take the time right here and now to thank everyone that has read it, asked about it, expressed interest and excitement. I could sit in this chair and say that it was hard to write and that it took forever, but that just wouldn’t be the truth. the truth is that this book saved my soul. it was the easiest thing to write because it was the actions of my insides turning out in the most positive and productive way possible. I was able to write freely in the pit of my marriage and it freaking pulled me out and saved me. my cracked Mac Book from 2006 is my happy place, regardless of the fact that every time I open it I fear it may never turn back on.
I want to take this time to share with y’all one of my favorite moments in the book, Walter recalling the first time he laid eyes on Bridget and what unfolded afterwards. I’ve toyed with posting the first chapter or the introduction…different things to stir interest but I don’t feel like that’s honest. This excerpt is taken from a single moment – tweaked a bit – that happened in real life, as most of the little moments in the novel are. It still needs light editing, and though it is a short teaser, I hope you enjoy!
**NOTE: If strong language and light drug use offends you, you won’t want to read this. I am currently cutting out several of the f-bombs, but this selection has been untouched for the most part. The spacing is weird, apologies.
I remember the first time I saw her, at Harley’s, like it was yesterday. She came in wearing a yellow shirt and dark jean shorts with white Chuck Taylor’s. I remember this perfectly because she was so tan and the bright colors were outstanding on her skin. Hello-Goodbye by The Beatles was playing on the radio and she was singing along while she waited on her coffee and donuts. Her soft brown hair was down and curly, spilling all over her back and shoulders. I couldn’t see her face at first, but I was definitely checking her out. I mean shit, I was 15, turning 16 and while I’d seen some decent looking girls in this town, none of them looked like that.She turned around to grab some cream and sugar when we made eye contact. She smiled with her eyes as they met mine. I took her in, like I always have. It was like I’d known her forever, a thousand lifetimes in one instant. My teenage self was noticing that front was even better than the back and definitely liked what he saw. Her face was soft and tan, like it is now. It made her dark green eyes stand out even more; similar, comparative to looking in to a deep forest or something. Her smile was beyond. Not only was it absolutely dentally perfect, it wide and warm, and contagious. She wasn’t as tall then as she is now, but her legs looked long and lean in her shorts. I was drooling. I more than liked the short shorts.We simultaneously realized we were still smiling at each other when her mom honked the horn and squashed the whole moment. She scooped up the coffees with her hands, tucked the bag of donuts under her arm and zipped out with a loud, “bye y’all!” I didn’t know who she was, but I had to meet her. I’d never seen a smile like that before…eyes and everything. I was starting school soon and couldn’t think of anything else but finding the girl in the yellow shirt.
My records took forever to arrive from my other schools, so I had to sit out two more weeks, anticipation of the Yellow Shirt Girl killing me all the while. My first class at West Orange High was English. The class was reading Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and I was a bit behind, though I’d read the book before. I was thumbing through the pages, nervously trying to figure out what page everyone was on without asking. I was the new kid, which did nothing for my nervousness.I was contemplating walking up to the front to ask the teacher when she climbed in to the desk next to me. Literally, she climbed. She was wild. Messy. She was, “Bridget Vera Ryland, but my friends call me Bridg. Or Brigitte, if I’m feeling Bardot,” she kinked her eyebrow at me and turned her head sideways, taking her headphones out, assessing my confusion. “And we’re on page 53.” I was baffled. What does that mean, ”feeling Bardot?” I had a suspicion she spoke a different language than me, but I didn’t care. I was going to learn the damn language, I was in. The girl had me, hook, line and sinker; anchors away.“Hey whoa! Wait! I recognize you…were you eating a chocolate filled donut with a chocolate milk at the counter at Harley’s a few weeks ago?” Oh shit, she was actually talking to me. She remembered me? An observant girl. I couldn’t process any thoughts so I just blurted out, “uhhhh yeah…those are the best donuts I’ve ever had.” I was too stunned to make any sort of interesting conversation. I knew I was blowing it. She just smiled at me and said, “uhhhh yeahhhh, they’re pretty fucking great. What’s your name?”“I’m Walter Branch, the third.” That is my name, right?“Well, hi Three. Technicalities, you know,” she rolled her giant green eyes at me. “I just got the new Brand New record. Have you heard it?” I shook my head, marveling at how unexpected I found her. “Come hang out after school and we’ll spin it. I wanna hear your life story. I may write it down. I write everything down, and if I’m not writing it down I’m making mental notes. Just thought you should know.” I just shook my head and smiled. She didn’t know me, but wanted to. Interesting. I knew I was gawking at her, but I could not fathom what kind of girl from a shit town like this knows anything about good music. Obviously, this one. Going to her house after school was a command I was willing to follow, without question.The entire school day seemed to drag. I was ready to see Bridget again. Is this what the rest of high school was going to be like? Agonizing anticipation every day before and after English class?“Mom, this is Walt!” she said as we walked in to her house. I’d never seen anything so perfect or fancy. It was out-of-a-magazine amazing.“Hi, Walter,” Mrs. Rosellen said, hugging me,“We hug in this house.” I hugged back without thinking. It felt like muscle-memory though I’d never met her.“What are you kids up to?” She addressed this to Bridget with many more questions on her face, a classic Ryland trait I’ve come to know and love. And fear.“Oh, well…Walt’s new in town so I thought we’d spin some records. He’s going to tell me his whole life story and I’m going to write it down.”“Of course you are Bridg. The house off of Hibiscus?” A question addressed to me. I stiffened and replied, “Yes ma’am,” adding a nod and smile.“ROSIE! No questions. That’s my job.” Bridget was so direct with her mom.“Okay, okay Bridget. Tea? Coffee?” she asked, addressing us both.“Coffee,” we said, simultaneously. I couldn’t help but grin even though I wanted to control it.“I’ll bring it out in a little, you kids have fun.”Bridget led me in to the sun-room, another perfectly arranged room. Dark furniture, with white, blue and grey everything else. Bridget plopped down on the floor and opened one of the cabinets.“My own personal stash,” she said with a wicked smile. There were so many variations of white when she opened her mouth; I was trying to keep up, but she kept distracting me. She handed me a tiny joint, expertly rolled. “Whoa Bridg,” out of my mouth and natural like I’d known her forever. And also completely honest and shocked because I didn’t expect this at all.“Are you coooooool, man?” she said, smiling only with the corners of her mouth.“Dazed and Confused! That’s the best!” The thing was lit and smoked right down to the tiny filter in no time. We laughed forever at absolutely nothing.“Gahhhhh! this record is gold. GOLD!” Bridget was flipping Deja Entendu to the B-side when Mrs. Rosellen came out with our coffees and a tray full of snacks.“Figured y’all would need a little snack or something with all this ‘rocking out’ going on out here.” Bridget rolled her eyes and stood up.“Thanks, Rosie.” Bridget kissed her mom and they both giggled; I’d never witnessed anyone being so openly close with a parent.Hours later I was instructed to call my mom and ask if it was okay to stay for, “supper at the Ryland’s,” and of course my mom agreed. She was thrilled I was making friends here, and it didn’t hurt that it was with a, “Ryland girl.”I met the rest of the Ryland family that night, Bridget’s dad, Mr. Chuck, and the famously beautiful Ryland sisters: Elizabeth (Liz), Marilyn and Lucille (Lou.) “Rosellen has an obsession with classic beauties, son.” Mr. Ryland seemed thrilled to have another man sitting at his supper table. “I’m constantly surrounded.” We all shared a big laugh together, and I was immediately hypnotized; I’d never seen a family bond like this before. It was contagious and I was welcomed with open arms.From that day on we were inseparable. We took all the same classes in high school and college (mostly.) We ate supper together almost every single night, rotating houses and families. I was always included in holiday plans, if my family plans allowed it. I traveled with the Rylands. Mr. Chuck and I are fishing buddies and I’m Mrs. Ryland’s unofficial handyman. Roles I am happy to fill as trade for being part of a big family. Please don’t mistake how much I love my own family, I do. I just love the way the Ryland family makes me feel. At the time, my family was still healing from losing my dad, but when Bridget came in to my life, and eventually her family met mine, my mom found a best friend in Mrs. Rosellen; something she desperately needed.Up til Bridg, I’d only ever had guy friends, who were mostly temporary since we moved frequently. Bridget was my first, all-the-time, every day friend. It was so much more than friendship. It was family, it was love, and it was the best kind. My mom, Genevieve (Gene [pronounced ‘Jenny’] to most), adored Bridget, so much more than any other person I’ve ever brought home. No friend compared to her, no girl ever held a candle; not Tiffany or Savannah or Emma. No girl was ever, “the right girl.” My mom and I shared this opinion, no matter how silently.Our intense friendship lasted through our remaining years of high school and all through college…until graduation day. So many things about those years stand out in my mind.I got stung by a whole swarm of bees the summer between high school graduation and freshman year of college. It was awful. I had incredible fevers and was swollen to a monstrous level. I was hideous. And apparently extremely lucky because I’m allergic to fucking bees and that SHIT SUCKED.Bridget ditched all of her awesome summer plans to hang out with me while I healed from the bee-attack. We watched movies endlessly for weeks and ate too many cinnamon rolls and drank gallons of coffee. We spent hours in the Ryland sun-room listening to every record by every band we both loved, smoking all kinds of pot and being lazy. Our friendship was rock solid, built on a foundation of coffee drinking, music and family. I’d never been more confident in my relationship to someone else. I depended on her and I knew that was okay, it was mutual. I liked having her around. – Liked? Who am I kidding? I loved having her around and never wanted to stop having her in my life.I thought endlessly about what it would be like to pursue Bridget, surpassing aware of that face I was in love with her; a fact that everyone in town constantly pointed out when she wasn’t around…or with their eyeballs when she was. My high school love for her was one thing, college was something else entirely different. In high school, it was about how cool she was, so carefree and happy. All the dudes wanted to date her and all the girls wanted to be her best friend. By the time we reached college, we constantly spoke of the future in reference to each other. Bridget would get jealous of other girls, without coming forth and labeling it jealously. I kept my mouth shut more times than I should have, because I worried that I would never get the validation I wanted from her. Not at this point anyway, she wasn’t ready. It all boiled down to timing, which we never got right.
Speaking of timing…..
While on this life high yesterday, this awesome wave I am going to ride until I crash, something else happened…
I was riding the high of sending out my first query letter hardcore and knew that the only thing that could elevate this excitement would be quality time with my mat. I’d taken a short practice at lunch with some friends, really feeling the energy from that dose of vitamin D , so I thought, “let’s have a little more.” I rolled out my mat in my room and started my practice. I did my usual Thursday morning flow (since I treated myself and slept in a little today) when I decided to move in to inversions. I took plow for a few breaths, then shoulder stand; a few breaths there. I rolled down and on to my stomach and thought, “why the hell not? Let’s see if today isn’t the day?” For the last 400 plus days, it has not been the day, but I am nothing if not persistent.
I took a deep breath in and rolled my legs in as far as they would go, on my tiptoes and before knew it….I WAS FLOATING! I breathed deep and realized I was holding a tripod head stand in the middle of my room, unassisted. WHAT IN THE ACTUAL…. I was immediately excited and humbled and nervous and everything all at once! I’ve been working on that for at least a year and could never quite get brave enough to let go.
So, I know I’ve posted many things this week. blogs yammering on about the picture in my head, how I’m finally finished with my first novel and sending off first query letter. I’ve been letting go of so many things over the last year, the front-runner being fear.
In the days that have passed this week I feel like I unlocked something, a door maybe, but I really envision a treasure chest; I feel rich in so many things. Whatever it was that I unlocked, whatever secret or key or whatever I found…I want to share it!
This is what I’ve been presented with: whether it be by the ceaselessly amazing faith my family and friends have in me and the support they constantly give or my connection to yoga and desire to practice or writing all the time or playing music too loud…whatever it is in the universe that has brought me to this place of strength, I am thankful for it. Resolution check: I am grateful for the strength I’ve found in 2015.
it is truly remarkable what happens when you allow yourself to be strong, to find strength in yourself and truly let go of fear.
Trust the timing in your life. Things will come when you’re ready to accept them.
to top it all off, all my cardigans and concert tees are clean and hanging up in my color-coded closet. my super OCD hipster non-hipster self is super happy. Wednesday killed it.
life has turned surreal.