Here I am, leaving Syracuse in a weak and unimpressive February sunrise, on my way to New York City. The train moves slowly through the bowels of Syracuse, causing no one the desire, or uncontrollable urge, to leap from the train as we pass: the backend of struggling factories, empty grey parking lots -- a fresh layer of white snow scraped clean from the grey, abandoned semi-tractor trailer beds, trash containers, the chain linked back yards of people’s homes with remnants of last summer’s games and gardens -- rusty swing sets with snow laden slides, shriveled droopy heads of sunflowers. The train horn blares gently, “Here I come!”
And I, feeling the queasy nervousness of anticipation. Flipping somewhere between: a giddy Mary Tyler Moore -- wanting to leap up from my seat, throw my hat in the air and sing, “She’s going to make it after all!” -- twirling, my hands extended from my body, scarf swirling, until I fall; and an agoraphobic Emily Dickinson, wanting to run to the tiny washroom and cram myself between the toilet and the wall and scream, “Why? Why am I doing this?”
But as the train picks up speed and the landscape changes to snow covered trees and wind swept fields, I know that I am traveling over eleven hours on a train for a two hour meeting, not only so that I can say, “I’m going to New York City to meet with my publisher!” but also because I want to see the man who will take my words and turn them into something that a stranger can pick up, read and be moved.
Oh this meeting has been a long time coming. Its possibility easing into existence sometime over ten years ago when I woke up and suddenly decided, in celebration of my mid-life crisis, that I could and would write. Those of you who write, know, all too well, that this was a wonderful, and very foolish, decision. If I had been a man, I would have made the much more reasonable decision to take on a young lover. Because little did I know that writing was a lover that would give and give, then take and take. A lover needing constant attention and constant feedback. “Was it as good for you as it was for me? “Would other’s be pleased, or do I please only you?” “Read me! Read me! Let my words slip across your body and caress your soul.”
So here I am, the soft blare of the train whistle, the gentle rumble of the tracks, following the rough icy texture of the Hudson River towards New York City to meet this young man that I have danced with through a multitude of e-mails.
First the query: “I’ve written a good book. Would you like to read it?” “Send the first 50 pages.” “Of course! Here you go.” And I wait by the gymnasium wall -- “Will he ask for another dance? Maybe this time something longer and slower . . .” I wait. And finally, “Send along the entire manuscript, will you?” I do. I wait again; living my life as if I’m not waiting for a train to leap upon, or in front of, as the case may be. Then, finally, the e-mail, “We like your book.”
Then the dance becomes something real and mutually satisfying; and ten years and a million words later, I am on my way to meet this man to sign my name to a piece of paper that solidifies and legitimizes my affair with words, so that I can and will continue to write. And I can, and I will, continue to move through the countryside on the slow moving train of my dreams and of my desires; and celebrate the gentle toot of, “Here I come!”