granddaddyhewelsbankerchair.jpg

my thesis semester found me managing my daughter’s campaign for state legislature. she was one of 4 candidates, and she wound up in a runoff with the older male career politician, an election she lost by the barest of margins. and by the time the last runoff votes were counted, i had 10 days to write my thesis. because it felt right, i worked from the table located in the center of our home – the chrome and glass table that was the first piece of furniture we bought as a married couple. every morning i’d light a candle, push everything and everyone else aside, and get to work. i had no time for angst or indecision. no time to argue with myself or let anything come between me and those notecards.

it was wonderful. you know what i’m talking about – being in that place that defies description where time and doubt don’t exist. that place i never wanted to leave.

but all too soon the thesis was turned in . . . and the first draft approved with only a note from faculty saying they were staying out of my way, leaving it up to me to massage if and as desired.

i wish that’s how i worked all the time – and lord knows, i wish i could get there without all the stress of having to fit it in, but alas. though i come up with more ideas than i can say grace over, and though questions are my native language (next to southern, of course), i have this annoying tendency to think them right out of existence before ever letting them fully hatch. or to run right over them with a ridiculously overloaded to do list.

that’s probably why i collect these stories about people who plunge right into something, making it up and deciphering it as they go. (there are at least 2 more right now begging me to give them some post time.) it’s how i want to be – just follow an interest without having to define, justify, or explain why it’s a good idea, why it will not be a waste of my time. i long to be a story in my own collection.

for more years than i care to count, i’ve carried around ideas for several books and plays, working on them and entertaining myself . . . but only on the inside. now let me be real clear here: nobody’s telling me i shouldn’t be working on these projects. nobody is telling me my ideas are ridiculous or that i’m wasting my time or who do i think i am. i am my biggest wall.

this morning, though, i leapt.

i wasn’t sure which project i’d work on when i got to the studio, i was only sure that it’s time. and without slowing down enough to even begin a thought, i started transcribing newspaper articles about the bank robbery. my maternal granddaddy was the county sheriff, you see, and my paternal granddaddy was the town’s banker, (yep, i couldn’t do a damn thing.) when my daddy was 5 years old, armed bandits came to town. because the vault couldn’t be opened on their schedule, the highwaymen (as the newspapers called them) brought out the whiskey, kept out the guns, and held my daddy and his family prisoners in their own home for more than 10 hours. it’s something that doesn’t happen to just every family, and yet it’s a story that was told surprisingly little around our dinner table. i don’t know that i’ll uncover reasons for the reluctance to talk about it, but i already know that it’s time to tell this story.

and i can’t – i won’t – wait.

p.s. that picture? it’s my granddaddy’s banker’s chair – in its original green leather – and it will be my constant companion as i discover this story.