UNITED STATES—Some sudden pizzaz infused my psyche the moment I learned that a very great fan of my books was going to be passing through Los Angeles on a moving trip with her husband and a 52-foot truck en route from Washington state to Sun City, Arizona. This is the kind of thing to put any budding author into a reverie.
I immediately went into the next room and told my daughter, “A big fan of mine is going to be visiting. Wow, this is really exciting. She’s always wanted to meet me and now it’s going to really happen.” My daughter was not in full-on listening mode so I retreated from an explanation of the special thrills to an author when somebody comes specially to visit.
One time an English teacher asked my daughter what she thought of my writing. She answered, truthfully, “I’ve never read any of my father’s books.”
So there you go. There’s this whole inner world externalized in novels and stories, and this is but a pale reflection of the world of feelings, memories, reflections and doubts that brew and effervesce within every day. Often there are secret precious things that never get transmitted to another and never will; therein lies the hidden sum of life. It is a rich, tender, funny, secret world and one feels a compulsion to share it with the zeal of the early hunter who wants to share the breaking dawn with people in the house still asleep. But who knows what dreams those sleepers may be dreaming?
So all around we have these secret and rarely penetrable lives going on.
The chance to share them comes up once in a blue moon, so you’ll imagine my excitement when Sue –we’ll call her Sue– was coming to visit from Washington. Of all my readers she’s the one who gave me the high-water mark of reviews, saying that she couldn’t wait to get home at night from the doctor’s office where she worked and find out what was going to happen next in “Hostages of Veracruz,” my organ-trafficking thriller. For this reader I had achieved that wondrous thing: an alluring exciting world that becomes an accoutrement and rival to ordinary life.
You can imagine my euphoric anticipation of this fan’s visit and the shared world’s there would be chattered about. It would be the total antidote for the respectful silences, forbearance that have prevailed under my roof this summer. Companionable silences proliferate, and I can say that my family knows well how golden and gracious these silences can be. One simply doesn’t have to prattle on about every little thing, or nag.
On the other hand, the impending visit of my fan Sue brought alive all the things present in my books and life, waiting to be told. I would be pointing with pride to my growing list of publications and probably sending my guest away with a signed copy that would be treasured. I even entertained the idea of giving away a stray scrap of manuscript that I usually throw out just to keep my desk clean. Further, in this encounter I might get to learn something totally new, as a reaction to one of my books, a new slant. Beyond that, this was going to be fun and it had to be lived to be seen.
From afternoon Wednesday I was scoping the street and actually, miraculously, there was a 52-foot space where they could park the moving truck. In the early evening, I got a message on the computer that they were 180 miles out of L.A. on I-5. That meant they’d be stopping around 11 p.m..
This trip was leaving Sue feeling a little off and her husband wanted to keep on the road. Some enough I was reading “There’ll be a next time.” I fully comprehended. When the open road beckons, you can’t keep your feet off the gas petal. Nevertheless, I felt downtrodden after a few day’s build up. There is something so true and poignant about the secret lives that each of us carry within and that represent an essential truth in living.
There tragedy and beauty knowing each of us has this one viewpoint and some of it will never be shared. It is enough to carry ourselves with dignity and acknowledge that we are surrounded by multitudes with their own secret lives.
Grady Miller lives and writes in Hollywood.