I had a strong deja vu yesterday that took me all the way back to May of 1992. I had just returned to Highlands after living in London for two years, and I didn’t know what was next for me.
As I did in all my summers during high school and college, I returned to work at the Stone Lantern. It was a wonderful respite from the high stakes and drama of international publishing.
So, on a day in May, the door to the mud room was open to 4th Street. Rain was coming down in torrents, as it had done every day since I returned in April. (It would continue to do so the entire summer.) I was pricing merchandise that had come in on a truck the day before. It was a shipment of Caspari notecards, napkins, bridge tallies, and playing cards. The ancient, paint-splattered radio was hanging on a nail on the wall, and it was tuned to Jimbud’s favorite station — the classic rock station. With sheets of price stickers, I methodically went through the shipment.
Dad came in for a coffee (something he drank the entire day), walked over to the open door, and watched the sheets of rain fall.
“I bet you didn’t think you’d travel thousands of miles home for more rain,” he joked.
I laughed. The rain in London never bothered me, but nor did it ever transport me like Highlands rain.
“I love the rain, Dad. The rain here always makes me feel safe, cozy, and connected to every living thing. Including every person.”
He turned and smiled. “I also bet you didn’t think you’d travel around the world and return home to price napkins. I hope you aren’t bored.”
All at once I realized how sacred I felt the task I was doing was. I had a place to return to, after all. All of my belongings were in a container on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic. My heart was still at 65 Audley Rd in NW London, broken in a million pieces. The man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with was not going to be in my life any longer. And the career I had pursued for years, had morphed into some kind of unrecognizable game of buying and selling lists of blockbuster books with the cadavers of beloved writers’ and editors’ careers in discarded heaps. I didn’t want anything to do with that work any more, and knowing that shattered me.
As the rain fell, I felt enormous gratitude. I had a soft place to land while I figured out my next step. I got to be surrounded with so much love and kindness. I could watch my dad love every single moment of his day — bear witness to an entrepreneur in love with living his dream. Everyone in his shop loved each other. And him.
I had no idea at that moment what I wanted to create, but I had a clear picture of how it would feel. It was the most perfect template for what continual, joyful creating with people you love looks like.
Trees heavy with lush foliage and water take me right to that place of possibility. To that place of soft support for everything I can dream. To knowing that not knowing breathes life into my soul. And that love — in all its forms — is the true birthplace of creation.
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