When I had my identity crisis back in January, I quit my job as Book Editor over at our local rag, and tried half-heartedly to find a full time job. Thank God I didn't. Even the part time job I had was so painful that on the 5th day I called my editor from the bathroom and begged him to let me write something. Just, you know, ANYTHING that didn't require wearing an apron and punching a time clock. Luckily he had a fun little press release about the author of "I Was A Teenage Dominatrix" sitting on his desk. I was in.
[Editorial aside: Ladies, if you have even the remotest desire for ex-boyfriends or other unruly specimens to ring you up I suggest you write an article about a dominatrix too. What are you waiting for? Get on it!]
After that, I essentially continued interviewing authors and writing about books. People kept sending them to me! Events kept happening! I couldn't say no. I didn't want to say no. And knowing the intense amount of sorting, labeling, reading and hysterical laughter required to run the Fiction Contest, I offered to help with that too. In the end, I ran it. For the 5th consecutive year. And I loved it just as much as I ever had. Around a smoky bar after the winners had been awarded, read and gone home I had a heart to heart with my editor, who is very inconsiderately moving to California in July.
I want you to have something regular here, he said, so it won't confuse my successor.
OK, I said. I'll be the book editor again.
Good, he said.
You never gave it away, I said.
I knew you'd be back, he said. A good editor knows you better than you know yourself.
And maybe he never met my grandmother and doesn't have a clue what kind of granola I eat with lowfat vanilla yogurt, but dammit if he hasn't had a thread connected to the big picture all along. Five years ago we met at a crowded intersection. He was whistling and smiling and I didn't know what to do with my hands. Why aren't you crossing the street? he asked. I'm afraid of getting hit by cars, I said, a bird might shit on my head and what if I don't recognize the grass or the sounds or the glints of light on the other side.
C'mon, it's easy, he said and crossed with a confident gait, a wink, a snap bouncing off the end of his long fingers. I waited another second before following, everything new and breathless and possible waiting for me on the other side.
Now, I'm at another intersection, but this time it's a cliff atop a deep sea filled with jagged rocks and circling sharks. For months I have been pacing the precipice, hearing the sirens call. I don't want to drown, I'm scared of getting my dress wet, of being eaten alive, of falling for some horrid merman and never regaining my rightful place on solid ground. As I try to think of what will happen if I lose my balance, or jump or if I am pushed, I realize that I may not know how to fly, but I already know how to swim.