Blue Skies Ahead

michael proposingWith the “new year” just hours away, everyone is writing about the year they just had and pondering what the coming year will hold.  I am not normally someone who looks back on what was.  Over the years I have also learned not to look ahead to what might be.  I am usually always wrong about all of it. But last night I couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking about the past decade and all the ways my dreams went sideways, came true, missed the mark, turned out better than I would have ever expected, changed my life drastically, changed me drastically (not always in ways I would have liked) were horrible, wonderful, no good, very bad, and everything in between.

Ten years ago I was fighting to hold on to my house.  I went from making $82,000 one year as an artist to $15,000 the next.  I sold everything from my art display to my stockpile of unfinished gourds, took on four jobs and still had to go on food stamps to survive.

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Today, my house is the house I share with my husband, saved by the business we started that led to the opportunity of a lifetime.  For six difficult, stressful years we worked eighty or more hours a week repairing RV’s and fighting with each other non- stop over delayed  shipments, damaged parts and other people’s schedules; people who thought they knew more than we did because they watched a YouTube video, men who asked to  “talk to the technician” because how could a woman possibly know what she was talking about, and clients who treated Michael like a servant because he was “just the service guy.”

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Ten years ago I had given up on writing.  I was too busy surviving to write.  Ten years ago we nursed along appliances that were as old as this house because we couldn’t afford new ones.  The last time we’d been on vacation was in 2007 and that was a trip to Ireland where we stayed in youth hostels and ate sandwiches in the car.

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Over the years some wonderful and unexpected opportunities came along; the short film, the Cannes Film Festival, sending Michael to Seattle to represent The Dark of Night  at the Seattle Film Festival where he got to walk the red carpet with his son, Jarred, winters spent in Florida (working, but still better than freezing in Asheville) where we got to spend time with his family, trips to New York and Los Angeles, concerts in Asheville, motorcycle rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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In 2019 I won a Sloan Foundation grant for Lucky 13 in partnership with the Athena Film Festival.  I did two art shows and remembered why I don’t do art shows anymore.  We have a new dishwasher, a new fridge, a new washer and dryer and a new stove.  This year we spent two weeks in France with the most amazing group of people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing,  I got to see old friends, and I married the man who makes all of this possible.  I still want to kill him sometimes, but now I know why I don’t.  Because underneath all that fantastic grey hair and a mercurial personality there is someone who would – and has – done anything and everything for me. 

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The years in between were hard, for a lot of reasons.  But for me, the New Year isn’t about what happened in 2019 or even 2010.  It’s a reminder that I get to spend my life surrounded by some truly amazing people and have for the past ten years.  I got to see Paris with old friends, new friends and people I have loved forever but never actually met.  I got to surprise the man I love with a proposal he turned around on me by surprising me with one of his own.  I have a family of cats assembled from foster fails and feline refugees and adopted opposums, I have a pit bull mix and a one eyed Shih Tzu I adore.

The past ten years were a lot about being beaten up, surviving, building a business, advancing on some fronts and being pushed back to the beginning on others. We went from trying to figure out how to make $300 in food stamps stretch for month to sitting down at a private dinner cooked at the chateau we rented with friends a few months ago.  I went from writing screenplays in the front seat of our RV service van to  winning a spot with the New York Stage and Filmmakers workshop, from working six backbreaking days a week to watching Michael Cooke make his first film and Bat Sheva Guez screen her  dance film at the Lincoln Center.

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And best of all I married a complicated, lovely, hardworking, difficult , generous, soft-hearted man who gives everything he has to helping make my dreams come true.  He isn’t an easy person to know but the last ten years with him have been worth every single second.  And even though he hates open sentiment the fact is, I love this man with my heart and soul.  No part of my life would have been possible without him.

michael and denise at macy's

We gotta good life.

So for the next ten years, this is my new theme song…

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
Bluebirds
Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long
Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my how they fly

 

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