Last year at this time, I was harvesting tears for my soon-to-be graduating senior. Last basketball game, last months at a beloved school, last high school dance pictures. The term empty nest was ringing in my head and it sounded so, well, so empty. And cliché.
Fast-forward a year. While I do miss my son--the uplift in his voice when he says ‘Hi, Mom,’ the shared dinners and movies, the waiting up and worrying (oh, wait, I don’t miss that at all!)--this empty nest business is pretty fun. (Really must come up with a better name—otherwise I’m in danger of cliché-ing myself out of an audience.)
I’ve been accused of being a hermit. Left on my own, I could sit in my office or my comfy chair or the back porch and write and read til the end of time. I suppose I would break occasionally for movies and wine and food.
Luckily my husband doesn’t let me get away with this hermit business for too long, because it’s only in the “real world” that a writer can view humanity with all its flaws and quirks and charms.
At the Dallas Arboretum, I see ripe raspberry tulips, snowing cherry trees, grannies with oxygen, and Glenda-the-Good-Witch quinceanera dresses. I hear screeching kids splash through frog fountains, frustrated moms reining in toddlers, and the click-click of my husband’s well-executed camera.
At the Kimball Impressionist exhibit I see monks viewing Renoirs and Monets, retired couples holding hands, cackling church ladies in matching red-ribboned hats.
At the Fort Worth Botannical Japanese Gardens I see plump koi fish and Kyoto-style stepping stones, hopeful brides and weary groomsmen.
And everywhere I see the faces of my next characters. Features, yes: wide noses, close-set eyes, stringy hair. But also expressions: resigned fathers, flirty twenty-somethings, sad botoxed cougars.
I've not settled on an idea for my next manuscript, but I can already see some of the characters' images and personalities auditioning before me.
Perhaps I need a few more outings. It won’t take long to exhaust Dallas and Fort Worth. Pretty soon we’ll be planning hikes in Ireland and Wales, a photo jaunt to Yosemite (with me hiding in the car from bears), and a return to my favorites, New York (may I stay here, please?!) and London.
Where do you get your best ideas?