Saturday, September 6, 2008

pretty good, after all

September 6th, 2008
6:55 AM

This is only a stopping place. And we've not even stopped. I suppose, it's better to call it a camping spot along the way. At camp, there are things to do. Work to get done. Things that need attention. The basics. Shelter, water, fire, food. And that's what we focus on here. At our little bungalow in the Garden City.

At camp, there's relaxation. Time for reflection. Moments spent with family or friends. Commitments and obligations remain, but there is extra time given to play and share stories. Again, we have that here.

One thing that a campsite doesn't usually have are passenger planes growling through the sky. One after another. All day and all night.

Air traffic has been heavy the past few days. We are less than ten miles from the airport. Just like hundreds of other families. And unless you're very good at tuning things out, you can never really forget the planes. They are always here. Gaining altitude. Tearing apart the sky. I wonder how many other people are up right now. Thinking about, writing about, cursing the planes.

Still, I would not trade our little house and big yard for anything. Not right now. We need this place. Want this place. It's a fine starter home. One that we worked hard to get. One that we aim to keep. Have as our home base. For as long as we need.

Though anything can happen and a person cannot script how life will turn out, I don't believe we'll be here for the rest of our lives. We've moved from a low-income condo development to a not-so-low-income blue collar neighborhood, but there's still room for improvement. Upward mobility is what this country is all about. And little by little, we're doing our best, not only to maintain, but to improve our situation.

I'm not helping much. Sure, I'm saving us thousands of dollars a year in childcare. I'm with Little Man every day, doing what I can to make sure he's healthy, happy, growing toward the sun. Also, I'm doing my best to keep the house in tip-top shape (improving my handyman skills as I go). But I really thought I'd be contributing more to our finances via writing.

I've taken on a few freelance projects, have been sending out my writing, but writing is a fickle business. I've know that for years. And now, writing this at a bit after seven in the morning, I realize I should have known better. Why on earth I've been banking on writing to help me and my family “make it” baffles me.

Sometimes I think I'm like those contestants you see on television. The person trying out for American Idol that certainly has passion and a love for music, but lacks skill and should not be singing at all. Or the really good Karaoke singer you see and hear on a Friday night. They hit most of the notes, they get some of the crowd cheering and singing along, but you just know they'll always be there. Looking for their big break. In some smoky bar. But they'll never get it because talent and passion can only take you so far.

And maybe this is as far as old Stevens will get. Just another guy. Twanging on his acoustic guitar. Covering other artists, doing requests, sharing his best new original work, but always seated in the same places, surrounded by the same faces, signing the same old songs.

That's okay. There are more important things now. Once, writing was my wife. I ate it, drank it, breathed it, sleeped it, dreamed it. Now, I've got a real flesh and blood wife. One that makes me feel happier than I've ever been. Even when it was just me. The single guy living out in the sticks. Owning an old country house, an old church. Living with his dog. Driving his fancy little sports car. Drinking too much. Eating too much. Tipping the scales with extra pounds, selfishness, and building up regret.

And somehow, I thought I was happy. Wanted to believe I was happy. Waking alone. Coming home alone. Sleeping alone. Doing whatever I wanted whenever Iw anted, but always whatever I was doing meant nothing. Was empty. Everything I was doing was aimed at filling the big ache. The hollow spot that was growing inside.
Now, that's changed.

No, I don't have as much time to write. But I have nobody to blame for that besides myself. I could get up earlier, stay up later, weasel in a few more minutes everywhere throughout the day. Simply put, I've been lazy. Living with the notion that someday someone will find me. But the truth is this...Any success I'm not having is because I'm not putting in the effort. There is an agent, editor, publisher, or patron out there that can help me out. Get this writing career off the ground and to the next level. But it's my responsibility to find him. Her. It. That means more time at these keys, searching for places to send my writing. That means more time at these keys, writing through all the crap, so that finally I write something that someone needs.

And at camp, while at this stopping place along the way, we dedicate ourselves to needs. Getting what we can from this earth so that we are warm. Dry. Have just enough of everything. Not only to survive, but to get by on. And from the looks of our cupboards, the refrigerator, the overall state of this little bungalow, I'd say we're doing all right for a teacher, a two-year old, and a stay-at-home-Dad.
Must be pretty good, after all, if I can wake up at first light, as airplanes growl and rumble through the sky, and put my tired fingers to these keys.

Keep on keepin' on.

~ Stevens

(copyright © 2008 by K.J. Stevens)

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