“I’d like you to open your book to any page,” she instructed the group. “Then, randomly point to a word or phrase. That will be your prompt.”
I wasn’t thrilled with Joan Marie Wood. My first writing mentor, and a deeply intuitive soul, she nonetheless handed me the novel, She Had Some Horses. Horses? What do I know about horses? I never had horses, don’t particularly like them, and merry-go-round music drives me bonkers. I was just itching to write about Nora. Instead, I sat nervously amongst the other more calm Temescal Writers last Wednesday evening, pondering the relevance of horses.
My compliant nature trumped the fact that I live in a free society, and I begrudgingly obliged. Upon flipping the book open, I watched my right index finger land on the word, “Nora.” The sentence read, “Nora and I go walking down 4th Avenue.” Goosebumps rushed my spine. How did Joan Marie know? She’s good. Really good. See, ever since I met Nora at the Writer’s Retreat in October, she’s all I could think about. If, in fact, we end up walking down 4th Avenue, my dream will be realized.
“Nora will be a day late,” Dale announced, when I arrived at the workshop site. “Her assistant is leaving the job, and she’s pretty taken aback.” This meant nothing to me, until I sat beside Nora during lunch the next day. In her sincere and humble manner, she asked if I have kids. I explained that I’m just out of a divorce and the kid window is closed, perhaps cemented shut. In fact, electrical barbed wiring and a highly sensitive alarm system surround the premises, with glow-in-the-dark “No Trespassing” signs every few feet. Thankfully, Jay spared me the need to further elaborate on such intimacies.
Pulling a chair towards Nora, he offered compassion. “I’m so sorry Karen left. Is it definite?”
“It’s 99% likely.”
Then, without an ounce of forethought and in nothing but a half-asleep, matter-of-fact tone, I vocalized these words as they popped into my head: “If you lived closer, I’d sell myself on you. I think you’d be great to work for, and I need a job.”
Indifferent to this verbiage that flowed without inhibition, we turned our heads to refocus on the food on our respective plates.
What did I just say? I’m never opportunistic, never self indulgent, never so bold. The seed was planted, though. There was no turning back.
“Um, well, you need someone good with computers. Right? I stink at that.”
“Yes, I really do,” she affirmed.
“There’s something about you, though,” she added.
We realigned our eyeballs on the pasta. Or was it pizza? Wait, was it even lunch? It might have been breakfast or dinner. I bet it tasted like chicken. Oh, I don’t know. I just remember every fraction of a millisecond of that conversation.
Our faces snapped back to glare at each other.
“Well, just how bad are you with computers?”
We shared a laugh, knowing my answer didn’t matter.
Last week, I visited Nora Profit in Paradise and began my housing search. I spent a fair amount of time at The Writing Loft, a creative writing program in Northern California. Nora Profit is its founder and Executive Director. I am her new Assistant.
As I face the uncertainties and challenges of this life overhaul, I feel safely assured that:
(1) I’m bound for Profit in Paradise, and
(2) I can’t afford to doubt myself.