The first thing you should know about me is I survived childhood through sheer will and determination. I would have died of a burst appendix at age 2 had I not awakened my parents with piercing wails two nights running until they finally accepted that the Kaopectate was not working and took me to see a doctor. Later that day I was appendix-free. The removal of my tonsils several years later was far less dramatic and therefore somewhat disappointing.
I first planned to run away from home when I was 12 years old. It was a good plan. I would change my name and hitchhike out of town. When I made it to a truck stop a long ways away—at least a hundred miles—I would get a job as a waitress. I would successfully secure this waitressing job at my tender age by making myself look much older with the help of a padded bra and girdle. I would also wear make-up. Lots of it. My parents would be grief-stricken. My face would be plastered across the front pages of all the major newspapers along with stories begging me to come home. Somehow they would know I had willfully left town rather than having been abducted by hooligans. I would ignore their pleas. I did not carry out this plan because my friend Judy finally came out to play before I had nailed down the final details.
This all can be explained by the fact that I’m an 8 on the Enneagram. But in my defense, I’ve matured into a “healthy 8” according to a dear friend who is in the know about things like this.
As hard as it may be to believe given this early history, I have lived most of my life as a generally responsible and productive adult. I entered junior college at 27 and earned my Master’s Degree in Social Work seven years later. I even completed the coursework for a doctorate in Social Work at Columbia University before I settled into a 15-year career at a well-respected settlement house in New York City where my creativity and vision were welcomed, put to good use and rewarded.
But, every silver lining has a cloud. In my heart I really wanted to live a free-wheeling life doing whatever I damn well pleased . . . and writing.
My first foray into creative writing was a book report on Giants in the Earth for 12th grade English. While my teacher, Mrs. Palmer, made it clear I had potential, I received no encouragement to pursue writing as a career. In high school, I was directed toward housewife, secretary, teacher or nurse. Apparently the adults thought these were the only choices available to a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks in a small Michigan town in 1964. After secretarial training and several years of acting out, followed by all that schooling I mentioned earlier, I found myself living a life that met my basic needs but certainly did not make me happy. I did my best to quell my dissatisfaction with the successful life I had built by taking mini-vacations and the occasional trip to visit family and friends.
I love long-distance driving. For me it is meditation—a time to let my mind wander wherever it chooses. In 1993, I took a huge step. I asked for a sabbatical from work and ventured out on a five-week cross-country journey with a friend. During those long days on the road, a beautiful story pushed its way into my head. The characters presented themselves and told me about their lives, and I soaked it all in. That story still may be written someday. Then, on a drive down I-95 from New York to Florida in 1999, I found myself thinking: “I want to write a story about a tired old lesbian, just like me.” Within an hour, Tate Marlowe presented herself! I had an abundance of ideas about the adventures she would encounter. What I didn’t have was the time or energy to write, or for that matter, even the belief that I could actually put the vivid, fascinating stories that lived in my head onto paper.
A few months after 9/11, I took a long vacation—a whole two weeks at one time—and visited San Miguel de Allende in the central plateau of Mexico about four hours north of Mexico City. While sitting in el jardin under the Indian laurel trees, listening to church bells and laughing children, I breathed a deep sigh of relief and thought “I could live like this.” Then it hit me—I really could live like that! The co-op I owned had increased in value dramatically in the six years since I’d purchased it. All I had to do was sell it and retire early.
That’s exactly what I did within months of returning to New York. I escaped the City in 2002, bought a pick-up truck and travel trailer and spent the next year bumming around before landing totally by accident in Asheville NC. I’ve lived here happily ever since doing what I damn well please most of the time.
A few more years passed before I began working with Grateful Steps and finally smashed through my writing block to complete Final Rights. Two more Tate Marlowe stories compete for my attention, both demanding to be written next. I’ll let them battle it out until one claims victory. Then I’ll begin putting the winner to paper.
I currently share my home with my constant and joyful companion, Coco Chanel, an opinionated Labradoodle.