The microwave digital clock reads 10:23, and my eyes widen.
For the first time in weeks, without the 7 am wake-up call of saws and sanders, nail guns and blasting Latin FM radio, I slept!
Because the porch project is done, and done beautifully. I grab my teacup and tiptoe out the basement door, up the stairs, into the quiet morning to take a peek.
It feels like Christmas. And in all the excitement, I forget about my numb left leg, the impingement of twisted vertebra L2 and 3 on a nerve; or I just don’t care.
Because the turquoise shutters gleam, the tapered columns and shapely balustrades shine, after 110 years of tens of layers of paint have been painstakingly removed and the bare-naked wood lovingly repainted. I smile at the bright red door and smooth my hand over the new floor planks, perfectly trimmed, covered by a protective coat of beige. And beneath run five thick joists, set plumb and square, forming the support structure that will keep the porch firmly in place, welcoming inhabitants and guests for another 100 years, long after I’m gone
I exhale a big breath of gratitude for Oscar and his crew for making my house and me happy again.
Just six weeks ago, when I first laid my eyes on the mess that the previous contractor had left (or rather, created), I stood on the stoop and sobbed. The historic components had been ripped out and cobbled back together with such brutishness, I felt the pain of my house viscerally. I had to turn away.
Now when I look, I feel her pleasure, and my own, and decide, in that moment: we’re having a porch inauguration party, to celebrate with the workers, the neighbors, and friends, this rise from the ashes. We will toast our success with champagne.
Moreover, with the porch done, and the DC inspection complete, I am one giant step closer to getting back on the road again. And this time, I swear, I won’t been glancing nervously over my shoulder at unfinished business destined to haunt me.
I’ll be looking forward, looking South and West, toward Arkansas!
Back inside my basement hovel, I hunch over my computer and reread the note I’d gotten just yesterday.
“Congratulations!” It’s entitled. “I am delighted to inform you that your application for a residency at The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow has been accepted. We are looking forward to having you join the talented group of writers who find their muse at Dairy Hollow.”
I still cannot believe it…finding my muse has such a joyful ring to it. With all the drama and trauma, she’s been in hiding. But I trust she’ll be in her element in the Ozark Mountains, in the Marianne Moore suite, with a chef on staff and the camaraderie of fellow writers.
It’s more good news than I can take. But I’ll take it. I manifested this. Post-it notes filled with my dreams adorn my alter to Kali, goddess of war, inviting her energy in this creative fight.
I'd gone into battle one Saturday, the construction buzzing out my portal window, compiling my application, with artist statement and writing samples, six straight hours at the computer, which, yes, took a toll on my poor, crooked back.
But we emerged victorious.
Smiling at the email again, I almost forget the pinch in my right shoulder and knot in my neck, arisen out of nowhere, as I reread the encouraging words: “I think you’ll find Eureka Springs is the perfect place to begin your journey as a writer!”
Actually, I’ve been writing all my life; but this does feel like a new beginning. I plan to raise my passion and professionalism to a new level, to complete my creative project, my #metoo coming of age memoir, a lifetime endeavor, and get my story out into the world. I have new stories to write too; one, perhaps, emerging in these journey posts.
I will not let the bad news of my contorted backbone gnarl my spirits.
I summarily click the link, pay my deposit, and type out a thank you note.
Though the X-rays and orthopedic doctors argue for a radical solution, I harbor a hopeful notion that finishing my book will be the cure I need as, page by page, the weight of years lifts off my shoulders, and my misaligned spine is allowed to heal.