Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Miami, Twenty Years Later.

We are Panthers proud and true. Senior Class of '92. 

I am having a really hard time reconciling the fact that it has been twenty years since I left Miami. This past weekend I went back to my old neighborhood for the first time since I left in 1992. The ghosts are still there, lurking around every remodeled corner. Sometimes the wounds are so deep and vast, nothing can erase them. Not time, not patience, not grace.

My classmates also made the pilgrimage back to the 'hood, all of us from different parts of the country to wax nostalgic about Palmetto High School. I have to say, I am so impressed with them! They are the most charming and genuine people I had the pleasure of spending time with. Far removed from the drama that befalls all high schools, these folks epitomized class and kindness (save a sad few who just never grew up).

The one thing I keep perseverating on is the blanket statement most people make in these situations "You haven't changed at all!" While I understand it is typically directed from a physical standpoint, it still makes me wonder. I had several gracious classmates tell me I haven't changed since high school. I am not above vanity, thank you for the compliments! To my own credit, they know far more about me by reading this blog than they might have known about me in high school. I say that's growth, the willingness to open up and be candid about life. Good and bad. I am different and so are they.

In honor of who I was and who I am now, here is my inspiration for the 1500 words I wrote today (a personal best). I'm Not Who I Was by Brandon Heath.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A First Look

The last time I posted I told you the story of my friend and how the character Tommy is based loosely on him. I have been tweaking a scene that has been heavy on my mind since that last post and thought it would be the perfect sneak peek to debut. Here is the scene from Ryan's POV:

copyright Google Images

A breeze kicks up and blows gently against the hem of her sundress, kissing her ivory thighs. Pervert. Irritated, I shake my head and I force my feet to move when those lovely legs of hers buckle beneath her weight. She lifts her face towards the sky and I can see that she’s crying, no, mourning. Her feral moan carries over the breeze and my heart breaks into a million pieces. Her grief is palpable; mixed with my own, it is suffocating. I am desperate to go to her, to wrap her in my arms and comfort her but there is no comfort in this loss and I am not who she wants. She runs her hand over the cold marble stone, tracing his name over and over. “Tommy” is the only thing she says between the sobs that tear my heart open wider with each shudder of her body. Watching her pain damn near kills me, still, I turn leaving her to grieve in private. If there is one thing I know with certainty about Beth it is that she is private to a fault and would not welcome anyone’s tea and sympathy, least of all mine. No matter how much I wish I could walk away, I cannot bear to leave her alone so I sit on the bench beneath the willow tree and wait. Maybe there will be a moment that she turns around or that I can reveal myself without her shutting down on me. Stubborn woman! Pinching the bridge of my nose and clenching my eyes closed I am assaulted by memories of the time spent on the lake with Tommy and Beth. All I ever wanted was for her to smile at me like she did Tommy that summer. The smile she gave him was a brilliant star shining against a dark sky. For the rest of us, her smile was fake and practiced. Never touching her eyes or giving anything away; it never brightened her face like Tommy’s smile did.  She is so beautiful when she really smiles... Knock it off Cantwell! My frustration is interrupted as she reaches into her purse and pulls out an envelope. Captivated, I watch as she lays her bag flat against the ground, shifts onto her back and lays prone across the spans of Tommy’s grave. Resting her head on her purse she pulls a letter from the envelope. I silently curse myself for moving because I am too far away from her now to hear her reading to my dead uncle. She is there for a long time, having to take long pauses in her reading to quiet her sobbing and continue. When she reaches the end, she folds it up, places it back into the envelope and leans it up against Tommy’s headstone. Instead of standing, she turns onto her side and curls up in the fetal position, her shoulders still shuddering with her heartbreak. After a while her body stills and for a moment I think she may have fallen asleep. I stand to go check on her at the same time she sits up and starts brushing grass off of her dress. I slink back down onto my bench still unwilling to give myself away. I am a voyeur, nothing more than a peeping tom watching her struggle commune with the man we both loved and adored. She stands, brushing the remaining dirt and grass from her dress and I am struck at just how beautiful she is. She is hesitant to leave; taking her time caressing the rough edges of the head stone.  With one final gesture, she brings her hand to her mouth, kissing her long delicate fingers and then places them back on the top of the stone. She doesn’t look my way as she walks back to where the rental car is parked and I stay seated on my bench until her taillights are no longer visible. Every cell in my body is screaming at me to turn and go but I find myself walking toward Tommy’s spot on the top of the hill and to the letter she left for him. 
                                ....until next time! Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Today was one of those days that everything I wrote ended up in the trash. I wouldn't call it a "block" but I definitely felt stuck on something. In this case, it was a character named Tommy who precariously teeters on the edge of fiction and reality. Tommy wanted my undivided attention today, reminding me of his importance in the book and in my own life.

Tommy's character is based on a friend of mine who I lost 8 years ago. He was present in my life at a time when I was very lost and very angry. Without hesitation, he looked at me and said "I believe in you" when no one else in my life would. That moment changed me indefinitely and forever bonded me to a wonderful man and mentor. In the winter of 2004, shortly after my second son was born, my friend died in a terrible accident. The birth of my second child was complicated and my recovery was long and difficult. I wasn't able to make the trip home for his funeral and it haunts me to this day. 

When Spring arrived, I left my boys with my husband and made the pilgrimage back home. Having that time away allowed me to grieve for my loss and to spend some much needed time visiting his grave. I spent a lot of time there writing to him and eventually I left what I wrote for him at the foot of his grave. The process of saying goodbye to my friend began a stream of daydreams about what it would be like if someone picked up my letters and read them. Would it be a stranger? Would it be someone I know? Would they try to find me? That is where the idea for my book took shape.

I know my friend is smiling down at me, ever encouraging to stick my neck out there. Sometimes I wonder if those daydreamy questions weren't his suggestions floating down from heaven. I am certain I wouldn't be where I am if my friend hadn't taken the time to listen to an angry kid. For whatever reason, it mattered to him to know who I was outside of my attitude. When days like today are full of the persistent write-delete, I think of my friend and his faith in me. I think I know I can make him proud. 

Never a day, B. Not one. Ever.

Monday, July 9, 2012


                                                                                           copyright Google images


If you are a dreamer come in

If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar

A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer

If you're a pretender com sit by my fire

For we have some flax golden tales to spin

Come in! Come in!

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein


I can't help but feel a little giddy at the moment. It's surreal to think that when I am through typing this first post, I will be one step closer to the goal. I am excited your here! Thanks for following and I look forward to your comments.