Sunday, April 11, 2010

Meier Magic

All writers lose confidence sometimes. Not just the peons like me. The big guns too. I've read their blogs. Anyway, a few weeks ago, my confidence wobbled and to bring me back from the seventh layer of hell, my editor told me how much she and the senior editor loved my books. She said they always contained a certain sparkle. It wasn't something they could explain or quanitfy. So they called it the Meier Magic. Somehow, some way, in every book I serve up a scene or two that hits everyone right in the heart. Something that resonates with readers because it's achingly familiar.

Needless to say, that lifted my flagging confidence. But it also made me curious. I never set out to make anyone cry. Well, maybe a little. But I never say something like "In this chapter I'm going to make people see what it feels like to be alone, wish they were more, wish they were stronger or better or different." Those themes just come out.

Truth be told, the themes I write about sometimes puzzle me. I lead a rather ordinary life.

But maybe that's the key. Today, for instance, I put on blue jeans and my "I-heart-hot-sex" t-shirt (a sort of gag gift from my husband from many years ago) and drove to Pittsburgh with my husband to help our son move into the new house he bought with his girlfriend, Alexis.

Alexis is lovely. Funny. Sweet. Easy to be around. So it was fun to grab some glass cleaner and antibacterial cleaner, my trusty swiffer and a roll of paper towels and go to work. We spritzed and dusted while we chit chatted, imagining great things for their first house. Then we packed up to leave again because my husband has to work tonight.

We walked to our SUV, telling Spunky how much we liked the house and saying goodbye, but when I slid onto the passenger seat and looked up at my son, standing in front of the open doorway of his new house, my heart did something that even a writer can't describe. It didn't turn over. It didn't squeeze. It didn't sink or expand or anything normal. It sort of stopped and froze and time stood still.

Spunky left home at nineteen for basic training for the Army Reserves. He finished basic, then college, and got a job in Washington, D. C. with Congressman Murtha. Shortly thereafter he was deployed to Iraq. He came home after 18 months and the Congressman transferred him to Johnstown where he lived and worked for a few years before getting a job in Pittsburgh. He rented a townhouse there and he's lived 'away' from us for almost a year.

He hasn't really lived with us for at least five years, but, today, seeing him on that front door stoop, with my heart bleeding out in my tight, tight chest, I knew he wasn't my little boy anymore. Everything he'd done until this time -- all the moves, all the traveling -- was temporary. This was permanent.

I suppose this is what mothers feel when they see their kids get married, or when they move somewhere far, far away. Or maybe it's what they feel the day they realize their little boy or girl isn't a child anymore.

Whatever it was, it still hurts. Little tears are splashing on my keyboard right now. Kids are so eager to grow up that they sometimes forget their moms always want them to remain children.

And that, I guess, is the Meier Magic. It's that I'm as human as everybody else. My life is pretty much the same as everybody else's. And I write about things that you recognize because we all go through the same things. Good and bad. Sad or inevitable.

Do I wish I had a magic lamp that could make my son six again? Yes. But no. (He was a real handful in junior high. Thought he was Bart Simpson.) Every stage and step of life is important. Some are just a little harder to transition through than others.



Donna Alward said...

The Meier Magic strikes again.

Heading for tissues. Nice work, Susan. And congrats to your son and his mom who obviously did a stellar job.

Susan said...

LOL, Donna. That was a difficult blog to write. I was tempted not to put it up because it was so difficult. But then I thought, all moms go through this. I was in the cyber company of people who would understand!