Sunday, March 7, 2010

Academy Awards. The Memories and Possibilites That Those Two Words Conjure

Once upon a time I lived in Charleston, South Carolina. This was where I raised my daughters, mostly as a single mother, and therefore of course, where every nickel needed stretching and I was always having to breathe deeply and pray that I could manifest enough.

Towards the end of this chapter, I happened to read an advertisement for a workshop in upstate New York on ‘proprioceptive writing’. I had never heard of such a thing but the description resonated with a buried yearning to access this long forgotten friend, writing, and I knew that I needed to go.


My daughters were old enough to spend a week with friends, I could find someone to care for the dogs, but nickels. No nickels, and this would cost $800 including the bus fare and lodging. As I sat at a red light on East Bay Street in my blue Ford station wagon contemplating this, a shiny black MG convertible careened around the corner behind me and sailed right into my rear.



Then a flurry of yes, both drivers were fine and “Oh my GOD please don’t involve the insurance companies! I’m a doctor, I can pay you in cash! Just take your car to my car guy, here’s his card, and let me know how much the repairs are! Please!”

Okay. So off I went to her car guy. The estimate from my dented bumper and the car being slightly misaligned came to $900. Then I trotted over to my car guy and his estimate, purely functional, non cosmetic, was $100. There was an $800 difference. It seems that I was intended to go to my proprioceptive class so I reserved my place and bought a bus ticket.

When I got to New York City, dressed in my long pink sundress and flowing locks, I sat outside the Port Authority bus station eating a turkey bagel sandwich and waiting for my connecting bus to Rhinebeck. I was feeling at home and knowing as I looked around that I would live here one day. I noticed a policeman hovering next to me, who kept glancing over and down at me. Finally I said to him “Excuse me, are you watching me?” ‘Yes M’am” he said, “It’s obvious you’re not from the city and you’re a sitting duck looking like that so I’m keeping my eye on you”. “Oh! Thank you!” I said. And then my bus pulled up.

As I climbed onto the bus there was a woman with a glorious wide brimmed hat with swirling blond curls streaming down, sitting in the very front. She said “You are an actress!”. I looked up and said “Me?”. “Yes you, you are an actress, I know this”. I said ‘No, I’m not, actually. I am a writer.” “No, you are an actress, and one day you will win an academy award”.

My feelings were a mixture of ‘flattered’ and irritation. I had been an actress on the Charleston stage but had now moved on and writing was about to be my passion; it had been brewing. I didn’t want to hear that I had just walked away from something potentially amazing.

This gorgeous woman introduced herself to me as Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way” and my face drew a blank. She held her own but was a bit ruffled that I had never heard of her as she was a celebrity to many and on her way to Omega to teach her workshop. She invited me to sit with her and when it was established that I was indeed enrolled in my writing class, she said “No, you’ll be in my class, you will see”.

We rode together for those hours on the bus and became friends. Julia was a treasure chest full of stories and impressions and we passed the wand regularly, back and forth, and felt like sisters by the time we arrived. We parted ways and off I went to registration.

The next morning I sat with the other members of my class in a circle, we lit our candles and Bach’s Brandenburg concertos were put on and pens began to fly. Suddenly I stopped. What was I doing? I could do this on my own. I slipped out of the room, dashed off to registration and asked if there was any more room in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” workshop. One space. I slipped into the back as Julia was up front and a smug adorable smile escaped the side of her mouth as she nodded.

I had more fun that you can imagine that week and yes, Julia and I hung out every minute that we could. Years later I moved to New York City as I had predicted, and Julia and I connected for another chapter.

Intention, action, voila! One’s whole world leaps! This is how it works.

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