For the last few months of my life, I've been in a big transitional phase. It's the kind of phase/journey that many of us enjoy watching in movies or reading about in books, but secretly cringe at the possibility of it actually happening to us in reality.
I've moved back to my hometown.
This is not as entertaining of a story as it was for Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats and not nearly as inspiring at it was for Anne Shirley in Anne of Avonlea. I've returned because of a divorce, but unlike famous authors and musicians, I had to move back in with my parents to gain financial footing again. It hasn't been easy and by far, it hasn't been fun.
Aside from the usual stress of becoming re-accustomed to a life without a life partner or looking for a job or setting my children up at their new school, I've had to reacquaint myself with a town that has changed so much since I was last here (12 years ago) and yet has stayed the same. I'm from a small town. We have a Walmart, a few grocery stores, 2 chain restaurants (that are not fast food), 2 high schools (only because it's in a large county), and a junior college. This means my daily trip to Starbucks is nonexistent. "The Bucks", as I have so affectionately coined it, is a "special treat" now when I take my boys to their dad's every other week in another town much larger than my own.
So I've had to find my new source of "crack". McDonald's Mocha Frappes.
God love, Ronald (that scary a$$ clown) and his specialty coffee line! My small town has at LEAST 2 McDonald stores and one of them is less than a mile from my - excuse me - my parents' house. I make a daily trip there for my large mocha frappe.
Today, though, I tried my hand at some willpower and guess what? It craps out on me around midnight. So what do I do? What any normal person should do.... hop in the van in my pajamas and head on over to McD's! But I was taken aback to see something in my neighborhood as I was pulling back in with the straw in my mouth.... something I haven't experienced in about 15 years. Something that greatly inspired my book SHADOWSHIFTER....
I saw a young (teenage) boy and girl hiding out (not well, mind you) behind a large bush in a neighbor's yard, staring longingly into eachother's eyes.
And the butterflies came back. Only for a moment, but it was enough for me to rush home (with the straw still firmly in my mouth) to write more on my second book in the SHADOWSHIFTER series, LYCANTHROPE.
Being home... I had forgotten what this place used to mean to me. This was everything that I wrote about in my book! Julie and Brody slipping out of their windows and back doors just to meet somewhere in their neighborhood. A Midnight Rendezvous! We writers - well, the good ones, anyway - we write what we know. And for a long time, I was very familiar with midnight rendezvous...
When I was twelve years old, I fell in love for the first time. By the way, here's my disclaimer: Young girls, do as I say, not as I do. Sneaking out can be dangerous, so don't do it.
I fell for a boy who lived in my neighborhood. He didn't exactly live next door like Brody did Julie, but he and I made a regular habit to meet at midnight. It was the only time we could be alone and spend some quality time together without the scrutiny of our friends and peers. He was two years older, so I'm sure the pressure was on for him to be with an older more mature girl. My friends were far more experienced than me, so I had that pressure. This was the only time we could talk about the things of who we really were and get to know one another on a real level. Didn't we kiss? Didn't we mess around a bit? Of course! - well, not when I was twelve... when I was fifteen, sure. I had my limits. But seeing those two young kids, foolishly falling for one another and sweeping each other of their feet... it was.... refreshing.
I'm home. This is where it all started for me. I fell in love here. I had my heart severely broken here. I learned how to forgive and how to fight for love.... and how to let go. And it was real and important enough for me to write a book loosely based on it all. To this day, I hope he (my "Brody") is happily married with children and if he ever comes through our little hometown - I hope he remembers me with a smile and then looks over at his family and says, "I wouldn't trade it for the world."
I'm home. I'm inspired. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
To the two foolish lovers at midnight.... thank you!