“Can I pay for six months in advance?” I hear myself saying.
My new landlord shakes his head up and down with gusto, happy to know that his summer rental prices would go well beyond the Vineyard’s popular summer.
Six months, it is amazing what can happen in six short months and for now six months was all I could commit to one place.
“You remember I have two dogs? They are both well behaved.”
“Oh yes dogs are fine, the Vineyard is very dog friendly.” my new landlord said more to himself than me as he took the very large check out of my hand.
Six months, six months ago I had just loaded up those two well-behaved dogs into my car along with a tent, a brand new Yeti cooler, and a bag of clothes and headed out West with no real destination in mind. I left with no plan, no schedule, and no desire to ever stop moving.
Careful what you wish for, I thought to myself as I drove my now beat up car still carrying all that I owned off the ferry in Oak Bluff and headed to the first actual building I would call home in six months.
Funny how not so long ago all I wanted was my first book to make it big so that my husband could finally relax a little about money and being the main breadwinner. I wanted my book to reach the New York Times Bestseller List so I could finally make my parents proud.
All of these things happened, careful what you wish for. A week after cracking the top 10 on the NY Best Sellers my parents were killed by a drunk driver. I remember thinking: “Did they see the paper before they headed out of the house?” An odd thought I know, but I just didn’t know how to process what had happened. A month after that day, almost most to the day my husband, who had started to relax a little about our financial future was hit by a car walking across the street to his office.
I had great success but at the same time I had greater loss. It took three months to get all the legal stuff sorted out from both estates and 2 months more to sell both houses and their contents. Six months from the day my parents died I was in my car with my dogs and heading off to parts unknown.
The first month is a blur of shitty motels and bad food. Inexplicably one day I woke up and decided to go for a run. I was always a runner, before, but when your legs get knocked out from under you it is hard to keep running. I ran that day and I kept running, after a month in a car I would have never imagined I would cover the 10 miles that I did, but in that 10 miles I woke up and actually started to grieve.
Two months in I got a call from a publisher offering me an advance on a second book, I said yes for no real reason, hung up the phone, got behind the wheel, and never thought of the conversation again.
I saw so much in that six months on the road. I sent pictures and emails to address that no longer had anyone checking them. A few times I would text my husband’s phone knowing he wasn't’ there to it but not really caring, I just had to send it.
I cried, I screamed, I saw the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets along the way. I met many people who had never read my book, and many who had who told me how I inspired them into action. A thought I found ironic as while I was moving I wasn’t really doing anything that could be called action. I hiked with the dogs, ran with the dogs, and slept squished in a car with the dogs when the weather was too bad to camp and I was too unfocused to find a motel for us to sleep in. I confided my story to so many strangers around campfires, hiking trails, and a few sketchy bars that allowed me to bring the dogs inside so I could enjoy a beer and the dogs didn’t have to sit in the car.
Month six I got a call from that publisher asking where to send the advance and to get a timeline on the book. I knew then it was time to stop driving and start writing.