There are certain things I remember from the '80s that no one else seems to remember. The Land of the Lost, for example. That might be one of the best shows ever (They fall over a waterfall into the Cretaceous Period! C'mon, how can you go wrong with that?) and, yet, no one I know can have a meaningful discussion about Chakka or the Slee Stacks. The movie North Shore and that zany surfer Turtle. Why does no one remember Turtle? At times, I've gone so far as to wonder whether I manufactured these memories --perhaps my jelly sandals were a little too tight, my fluorescent leggings a little too bright, who knows.
But of all my '80s memories, Blue Mountain greeting cards, for some reason, are one of my favorites. You know, the cards with their own special rack, the ones with the purposefully frayed edge, sappy cursive writing and putrid pastel colors. They are like Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy, only completely serious. They generally have three full paragraphs of sap that would put any soap opera monologue to shame and, at the age of 14, I was certain the author of this stunning prose saw straight into my heart. I still remember perusing the rack, nursing a broken heart because Chucky Lang broke up with me after a few short weeks of whirlwind-baseball-field-snack-bar romance, and coming across a card that was printed with some overdone cliche about loving something and setting it free and when and whether it would come back.
If you've read this blog, you know how Laura and I love The Pecking Order. Well, sometime in 2008, we both set it free. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but we both felt the release and it was liberating. When we started writing, we held the book so tightly our knuckles were white. We tried to squeeze from it an exit from the firm, which was sucking out our souls like one of JK Rowling's Dementors, not to mention wreaking havoc in our marriages, our friendships, and with our health. We just knew that along with an agent would come balance and happiness and wholeness and consciousness in all its splendor. Forget The Secret; what we needed was an advance.
In time we both realized in our strange cosmically connected way that maybe there was something to what Oprah, Eckhardt, our pastors, and our yoga instructors were saying. Perhaps, just perhaps, happiness and wholeness and consciousness would not be found in the pages of our yet to be published novel. Sure, we had worked hard to write it and even harder to find it a publishing home, but what we really needed to do was (to use another bad cliche) look inside ourselves. And as it turned out, we had work to do there, too. And with that work, we unshackled The Pecking Order at long last and put the responsibility on the right parties. Don't get me wrong, neither one of us sits around meditating or moves through life in complete zen; we still occasionally yell at our kids, snap at our husbands, and curse in traffic, but not nearly as much. And what we've learned is something I was taught twenty years ago by the Blue Mountain greeting card - if you love something, truly love something, set it free and it will come back to you better and bigger than it ever was. And thank goodness (see Big News), unlike Chucky Lang, The Pecking Order did.