I'm on vacation. My first real bit of respite all year. Aaaaah.....
Of course: I drove. . . Ten hours. . . With three kids. . . After a half day of running errands and scrambling to tie up loose ends. Still, respite, yes.
Somewhere amid the midnight darkness of I-55, while my rental car stereo (we forgot the CDs!) was desperately scanning for palatable music, we landed on John Mayer. "I just found out there's no such thing as the real world -- just a lie you've got to rise above." My college-aged son sat in the passenger seat beside me, both of us belting out the lyrics, my mind nodding fiercely in agreement with that simple truth: No such thing.
Fitting then, that I am vacationing at home. Not the house I grew up in -- my parents divorced many years ago, live in states far apart from each other with the new spouses, and other unknown people inhabit the eat/sleep/play place of my youth.
Still, this is home. My father and one sibling remain in suburban St. Louis. Cousins, old friends, and all of life's early memories that have hung on this long remain here. Home, then, is spirit. It's the connection to the faith that these are the people who love me and mine, that they will fight for my well-being, that they love me best in blue jeans, sandals and a ponytail. I love them, too.
Yet, how hard I fought in my youth to get away from home! Oh, I couldn't wait to run off to college and then immediately afterward I disappeared into the young adult struggles of finding self, job, housing, mate -- "a life."
All these years later, I realize that at some point I came full circle. Going home was no concession to weakness. It's the place that gave me the spunk, wherewithal and tools I needed to become who I wanted to be. And these are the innards that make me a better fiction writer.
While readers opt for escapism when they choose to read our made-up stories, those novels that fail to connect with the basic emotions of hurdling life and its challenges get chucked as unrealistic, hard to believe, bad books. Ironic, yes? But I guess it just goes to prove what John Mayer voiced in song, "there's no such thing as the real world." It's just a lie we have to write above.