I am free. Really. Free! No, I haven’t been imprisoned, although living in the recliner while I healed from knee-replacement surgery was a sort of jail. Had lots of visitors, however, and, thanks to friends and neighbors, we had more food than Safeway, so, all in all, not a bad few weeks.
Then Physical Therapy started coming. Therapists are fun people. Sweet, charming, and encouraging, but when you have to flex and bend a knee that’s been rudely treated in surgery, you hate to see them coming. They literally get you to the point of screaming, then pat your back, cluck over you, and tell you firmly, “Now do that ten more times.”
When I was finally on foot about three weeks later, therapists stopped coming to my home and I went to them for PT. Same kind of people. Handsome or cute, kind and caring, but with zero concern for the fact that I was turning purple and writhing on the floor as they worked to restore my knee's 120-degree flex.
But it's thanks to them that I’m now walking the dog, going to town, and am completely astonished by how well the surgery and the therapy worked. I have no pain. I have one more PT session next Tuesday, then I’m sure I’ll be released. I’ve lost about 5% flexibility, but at 72, I doubt I’ll be dancing the Hopak anytime soon.
Aaaand, for the first time since fall of 1983, I’m not on a deadline. Do you believe it? I’m officially retired. I did AAs for Victoria on the August book, A New Year's Wedding, while I was recovering, so now I'm ... Free! It's a weird but wonderful feeling after all these years.
I’ve begun the great purge of 659 15th St., 2 floors and a basement of 1000 sq.ft. each. Not an enormous house, but we have been here for 41 years. I’ve dreamed of having time to do this. I’ve bought plastic totes for what I’m saving, leaf bags for what I’m throwing away, and clearing a spot to put things I’m saving for a garage sale. A dumpster is arriving at the end of July and will live in front of the house for two weeks. By that time, I may have to be dug out of it.
Ron and I aren’t going anywhere. Ron's doing very well, though absolutely everything he wants or needs to do now requires me, and I'm fine with that. We still have more fun together than anyone should be allowed. It has crossed my mind, though, that if we had to make a sudden move, I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to deal with my thousands of books, or Ron’s family’s art work.
I was feeling very pure about the cleaning up when our niece arrived with a truckload she’d brought from L.A. of items she’d rescued from Ron’s older brother’s home. We were thrilled, of course, to have things from the family home, but our living room now looks like Filene’s Basement on sale day. My tidying progress has been set back at least a week, but we do have a framed sampler made by Ron’s Danish grandmother in 1886 when she was ten years old. Her name was Gertrude Marie. Though I'm no longer writing, I don't seem to be able to turn off the plotting factor. That was always my weakest skill, but I can see Gertrude's face in my mind's eye, watch her sit under a tree with her needlework, flirt with a handsome shop-keeper who was Ron's grandfather.
Even dedicated to the cleanup, I can stop in front of our dining room window with its wonderful view of the Columbia River and watch the ships or the birds because my conscience isn’t saying, “You should be writing.” I can walk Claire and go a few extra blocks because she’s having such a good time and be relaxed about it because I don’t have to write ten pages that day. I can sit on the porch with someone else’s book instead of my laptop and not worry about how much time I’m taking because it doesn’t matter! I’m free!
I’m so happy for all of you who are still engaged and driven by the need to write. That period in my life was such an exciting time for me and I loved being work obsessed. Now that I have to be home-obsessed, I'm good with it. I will always be a writer, even if I’m not writing.
Now, much of my energy will go into pulling for all of you. Those of you affected by the changes at Harlequin, try not to be frightened by them. Things come and go in publishing just like any other business – some things work and some things don’t, but a hard-working writer will find employment. Business is cruel in demanding your heart and soul, then discarding them when numbers are on the line. Unfortunately, it’s always worked that way and probably always will.
Thanks, all of you, for allowing me the fun of getting to know you and your work. It’s truly humbling to have been in such skilled and supportive company. It’s possible this course I’ve taken will change one day, but for now, I’m hearing music in my head rather than words. It’s Louis Armstrong singing, “What a Wonderful World.”