I have been faunching at the bit (yes, faunching is a word.) to share a bit more about Surrey.
Of course, I just got off work from a twelve-hour shift so my brain isn’t real clear, but I am too excited to have a computer back, sort of, not to write.
I have gotten things out of order and I will try to get back on track soon, but I’ve really been thinking about Lisa Norman lately. Lisa is a magnet for people with fascinating stories. I have a tendency to attract “colorful” people. (Remind me to tell you the story of the elves between my knees sometime.) Lisa attracts people with fascinating stories. I was fortunate enough to room with her and it really was like a long pajama party. She never said a word about the undies hanging on the towel bar or my clothes scattered everywhere as I dashed out the door for something, or me hanging out at the bar until they ran me out, or me prattling about all the fun things. She is such a sweet, kind, generous and loving person I don’t wonder that strangers would gravitate to her like children to a puppy.
I found Lisa in the bar one night, visiting with two ladies she had met earlier. I, by that time, had been invited to send pages to my two wonder agents and the editor. I was still convinced all te agents pretty much invited everyone to submit because they were very nice people. Lisa, Beth, Jenny, Tara, Donna and all the rest of the gang were telling me they didn’t invite unless they are interested, but who am I to listen to a dozen other people? I was still convinced everyone who was at the conference was getting invitations.
One of the women Lisa met was lamenting the fact that she had nursed her ungrateful husband through prostrate cancer, stuck with him for years prior to that and then the worthless bastard left her. Her friend had also written a story about being the faithful wife for years and then getting dumped and having to start over. I was swilling down the beer and trying to look interested. Lisa smiled her angelic smile and said, “Yes, Julie knows all about that.”
Truth be known, Lisa had come perilously close to making the perfect foursome of middle-aged, and I use that term generously for some of us in the group, single women starting over after years of marriage.
The problem with me is I am not the redhead with the gift of patience with people and the angelic smile. That would be Lisa. I’m the one who once told a woman in Walgreen’s there’s a leash law in this town and she needed to put that little beast on one after her daughter ran a shopping cart into me.
I’m calculating in my mind exactly how much money I have left and how much more I can drink so I can get an angelic smile like Lisa’s or at least a stupid grin that might pass for angelic in a fairly dark bar.
This woman is going on with her story of woe. I’m thinking back on Hee Haw and the song that started out, “Woe, despair and agony on me.” Lisa is drinking her Coke and smiling through this story which she has already heard and I nod occasionally as I look around for the waitress to get another beer.
The lady really is quite attractive for a middle-aged woman and seems to be pleasant enough and life should not over because that worm left. Even the name of her book was enough to make a person snooze. I can’t remember what it was now, but it was something like. “Left Alone After Thirty Years of Marriage. One Woman’s Story of Starting Over.”
Shoot, even my tale of woe, despair and agony had a better title, “Flight to Freedom on a Forklift.”
I’m being pleasant. Several beers do that to me. Margaritas make me friendly, daiquiris make me sing and beer makes me pleasant. It was a beer night, so Lisa didn’t need to muzzle me…much.
This woman can’t understand why no one wants her book. She pitched to some agents and an editor I think. No one wanted her story and it’s fascinating. Her friend nods. “Yes, it’s fascinating.”
She’s talking about starting over and then says, almost as an afterthought, “That was right before the tsunami in Sri Lanka and I packed my bags and went to help with the relief efforts.”
I roused from my game of counting the chairs in the lounge and sat up like a meerkat watching a mouse. “You did what?”
“I went to Sri Lanka and helped the people after the tsunami. I stayed there after the relief work was done and helped some women set up some cottage industries to help support their families. They were living in absolute poverty and I had to do something. They make paper out of elephant dung and I showed them how to make these beautiful greeting cards they could sell.”
“There’s your story,” I said. “No one cares about the other stuff. Start your book with a brief introduction and go straight to the tsunami. This is an awesome story, but you’re hiding it.”
Lisa smiled her angelic, and knowing, smile. “I told you she had a great story.”
She did, but I was busy arranging peanuts on the table and playing war with them. Peanuts and pretzels look a lot like knights jousting after all.
I shrugged at Lisa, who is very patient with me. Thank goodness. Did I tell you she didn’t even complain about the undies on the towel bar? The ones that smell like mandarins and mint?
“You need to get rid of that title, too,” I said. Remember me? The one who can’t even come up with a title for my own book?
So, I quit playing war with the peanuts and pretzels and we started brainstorming for a new title. My entry was, Gift of the Tsunami.
Lisa did what Lisa does best, and encouraged this woman to keep trying to sell her book. I even encouraged her because this really is one of the most intriguing and fascinating stories I’ve ever heard and she is hiding this wonderful tale under layers of “he done me wrong.”
I wish I had gotten her card or name because she sells cards for these ladies and helps them with their businesses. If I’m not mistaken, she still goes back there to check on them. She took a story that happens to thousands of women every year and turned it into a blessing that truly changes lives. What a story. What a wonderful story and what a tragedy if she never gets it published.