She was at a loss for words, she was overwhelmed, inspired, intimidated, exhilarated and exhausted. Both empty and complete. It was the beginning but also the end. She blushed, she smiled, she turned her head down and ran her fingers through her luxurious long, thick blond hair. We were waiting. It was her moment. She brought her head back up to us, faced us as there was no one else on stage and it was her or no one, now or never. She was sitting in front of us and we were waiting for her to say something, anything. This was going to make it or break it. This moment was going to define the past and the future. It was a big moment. They don’t come around very often. She looked at us and was now convinced. She knew.
The previous ten years was sitting next to her on a table. Her book. It was also sitting in front of her, 10 rows deep. Her fans, her friends, her most cherished and closest. It swelled up inside of her and climaxed at this moment: this was the end of something and the beginning of something. She was free.
“I stand in the shower and smile and say, ‘I’m free! I’m free!'”
She picked her book up and showed it to the crowd, “It’s really here. It’s finally here.” Travel and romance, spiritual discovery and divorce, personal and professional tectonic shifts: change, drama, happiness, sadness. All sitting next to her in ink and paper. Finally, really, truly there next to her. It was done, it was over, finished, completed.
She spoke of her journey. She was eloquent but raw, enchanted but tainted, scarred. Charming but experienced. The history, the stories, the writing, the re-writing, the editing, the publishers. Both the spiritual journey and oh-so-far-from-spiritual drudgery. She graciously thanked those who helped her get there–she said she wouldn’t have arrived without their help. She read passages from her book and brought us back to the mountain, the lake, to the travels, the people, the scenes, the words, the mood. She gave us a taste of the journey. We wanted more. She was going to make us read the book ourselves, get the whole story, dig in deeper.
Dig in deeper, where it starts to bleed.
Her editor spoke for a short while and talked about how she knew there was another story under what started out as a travel narrative. She pushed her to dig deeper, to get under her skin “to where it hurts and where it bleeds.” It hurt, but that’s what it took. The true story was under the skin, “in my belly” she said. It was below the surface, but you had to work to get there. Hard work, pain, suffering, blood, tears, and ten years.
We in the audience were witness to something you don’t get to see very often. It was a new beginning, a transformation, the end of an era. The change in a person. We saw the point where the divide would be defined: before this day and after this day. It doesn’t happen very often. Maybe a university graduation or landing a role in a big production.
Ten years previous we sat together in a cafe and talked about the progress of our books, our writing, the struggles. When it was going to all actually happen. It all seemed so far away, so unreal. It was far away, it was unreal. Ten years later and it’s real, it’s here, it’s sitting next to her on the table.
I felt a pride that can only come through a build-up over a long period of time. A pride combined with love, with envy, with a satisfaction that “justice had been done, this is the way it should be.” A child finally takes his first step or speaks his first words. You were a part of the process, you were not just around for the show, you were backstage and silently–and not so silently–waiting for the day to arrive, working for the day to arrive, but they had to do it on their own, they had to make it actually happen. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t quick–but what of greatness comes that’s quick or easy? That day was here for her and it was big. That day was today and she won’t forget it for some time to come. I know I won’t. It was A Big Deal. It was real.
Need to know more? Follow-up to It’s Real.
Wow. Bradley, this was amazing to read. Not only do I wish I was there, I wish I was her.