New Jersey

I’m writing today’s blog from a hotel room in The Reeds on Third Street in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, where it’s a bit dreary and rainy outside.  I haven’t ventured beyond the room yet, but since people are a. wearing shorts and b. carrying umbrellas, it’s apparently warm and rainy outside.  Warm and steamy is a surefire recipe for a bad hair day, so I probably won’t venture outside until it’s time to go do an event for the Avalon Public Library.

Regular readers of this blog may be saying to themselves, “Wait a minute.  Didn’t she just say she was cancelling this fall’s book tour because of her shoulder?  What’s going on, and what in blazes is she doing in New Jersey?”

I’m about to tell you what I’m doing here, but first let’s take a walk down memory lane, back some ten years ago to another blog I wrote in another time and place.  In January of that year, I proposed to Bill that we take a trip to Monaco that spring in honor of this birthday so we could watch the Formula 1 race.  He said, “No, I don’t think so.”  I was shocked.  Stunned, even.  This is a guy who had followed Formula 1 for years—long before I met him—and during our earlier trip to Monaco for the race, we’d had great fun.

So, shocked as I was, I took him at his word, but I also took action.  I invited all the kids and assorted grandkids on a group-grope trip to Disneyland.  Our hotel was across the street from the entrance to the park.  The street was six lanes wide—two traffic lanes in each direction plus one left turn lane in each direction.  Pedestrians were given 20 seconds to make the crossing.  By stepping off the curb the moment the light changed, we were able to cross, but only just barely, and by the time we reached the far side, Bill had to lean against a light post or a trash can to recover.  (There are not nearly enough leaning-height trash containers anywhere in Disneyland.)

Those days in the park preceded and ending with those agonizing street crossings gave me my first inkling of just how bad Bill’s knees were. He’s tough. He is NOT a complainer. He had successfully hidden the truth about his bone-on-bone suffering. So when we got back to Seattle, we went to see a highly recommended knee surgeon who, in May, allowed as how he could do a dual knee replacement sometime in August. But then, toward the end of May, the surgeon had a cancellation, and Bill’s surgery was moved up to June.

A year earlier, I had been asked to appear at a writer’s conference in Boise, Idaho in June—the very weekend that Bill would be released from the hospital and transferred to rehab. When I told my daughters that I was going to contact the conference, tell them my husband was in the hospital, and that I wouldn’t be coming, what do you suppose happened?  Cindy and Jeanne T. immediately replied by spouting back some of the very words I had said to them over the years. “You gave your word. We’ll take care of Dad. You keep your promise.”

And so, muttering under my breath, I went, and going to Boise that weekend resulted in what’s now turned into a ten-year long friendship with one of my longtime idols, singer Janis Ian. The girls looked after Bill, and ten years later, his very successful knee replacement counts as a daily miracle in our lives.

So that’s why I’m in New Jersey today and why I’ll be going to Newport News, Virginia, in October—because I gave my word. Those two events were set up long before the shoulder injury presented itself.  Individual trips I can manage. But two weeks of steady travel and appearances? Those are beyond my capability right now.

Getting to Avalon yesterday wasn’t easy. We packed differently. Since it’s only a three day trip, we were able to pack far more lightly than we would have had to pack for a multiple appearance, multi-week road show. We arrived at SeaTac at 6 AM. When we checked in, the guy at the ticket counter didn’t bother to mention that our flight was currently on an FAA-mandated weather delay—what turned out to be a FOUR HOUR weather delay—due to thunderstorms on the Mid-Atlantic Coast. So we had gotten up at the crack of dawn for a flight that didn’t leave Seattle until after eleven AM. We arrived in Philadelphia where we stood in the rain, waiting for our car rental shuttle. Then we drove on strange, twisty roads through gathering darkness for 70 or so miles before we arrived at our hotel. Whew! But The Reeds in Stone Harbor is totally worth it!

Twelve hours of sleep anyone? Yup, that was the only way to recover, but we made that work, too.

Bill just checked the weather report. Currently it’s showing that tomorrow may offer more of same, but at least as we head back for our return flight, we’ll have a better idea of what we’re up against and make our plans accordingly.

In the meantime, I have my laptop, I have my fingers, and I have my little gray cells, so it’s time to get back to Ali # 14, aka The A-List.  By the way, that’s the baby’s agreed upon name now—The A-List.

Because, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I’m a writer at heart.  And with twelve hours of sleep under my belt, I should be able to make some forward progress.