Last year I lived in a big house in the suburbs with a comfortable office and six uninterrupted hours each weekday to write. I had a special area set aside for brainstorming with corkboards and whiteboards mounted on the walls. I worked in the yard to keep healthy, building stonewalls, extending the lawn, planting trees, and building perennial beds. The yard was big enough that I could work with my hands every day and never run out of things to do. (I worked without power tools to get the maximum exercise out of my projects.)
Here are some of them:
With two kids and a dog, books to write, meals to cook, and all that work outside, I never lacked something to do. I seemed to have the world by the tail, but I wasn’t a happy guy.
Fast forward one year.
I have moved into a single room with my few remaining possessions crammed in all around me. I write squeezed in between my bed and bins full of clothes with my laptop on my lap. The whiteboards, the desk, and the bookshelves are all gone. I still work with my hands during the day, but now I work for food—eating at Subway would be considered a major purchase. If that doesn’t make my new situation cozy enough, one of my roommates likes to play guitar at 3:00 am. Johnny Cash. Same songs over and over. All night. Loud. You’d think I’d be miserable.
So a few weeks ago my daughter’s friends asked if I was her brother. I wouldn’t have paid any attention, but another group of friends had asked the same thing a week earlier. These girls have seen me dozens of times. I’m at every game. I used to drive carpool. So I had to wonder why they were seeing me differently than they did before. Then the woman at the high school ticket booth charged me student admission for a football game. When I handed her back the extra two dollars, I knew something was up.
When I wrote Addicted To Love I wanted to explore the idea that deep down we all want to find a passionate connection we can’t live without. I created a place where everyone was desperately in love and obsessed over their lover so much that the rest of life became background noise. My parents have this sort of connection and maybe as I was writing this novel I was bitter I hadn’t found it myself.
And then something wonderful happened.
I found someone I want to spend every waking moment with. I reach for her when I wake and if she’s not there, I reach for my phone to look for word from her. When we are in the same room for more than a minute, one of us always closes the distance until we touch. It is an unconscious desire to be close that makes my heart sing whenever I notice it happening.
For us being close is much more than physical. I can’t remember when it happened the first time, but some time ago I was upset and my sweetheart explained what was bothering me and why. I was dumbfounded. I felt like half of the little old couple in matching rockers on the porch, but we’ve only known each other a short time. She cares enough to reflect on what makes me tick and she knows me better than anyone ever has. It is as if I have been alone all my life and suddenly I’m not.
Something I said to her sums up our relationship. “When I appear, you smile.” It is so true. No matter how many times I enter a room, she lights up when she sees me. Finding this amazing connection and feeling so deeply loved has made me so joyful that people think I’m 25 years younger. If you think I’m crazy for falling madly in love at my age, please don’t tell me. I like feeling like a teenager.
As Black Friday passed, I saw images of people hurting each other over little pieces of plastic and was deeply saddened. Material things will never hold that important of a place in my life and I hope they won’t in yours either. I encourage you to go out and do some Christmas shopping. Help our economy, celebrate the season, but focus your energy on those most important to you. You might start looking younger, too.