Marriage is on my mind.
Our oldest son and his wife recently celebrated their third anniversary in their new home. Our middle daughter and her husband are looking forward to celebrating their second anniversary somewhere not impacted by the Zika virus. And our youngest daughter got engaged in July to a wonderful young man we’ve known since they were in high school.
A few weeks after Taryn said yes, my husband and I celebrated the 40th anniversary of our first date by going to dinner at a French restaurant owned by the family whose restaurant we went to that steamy Manhattan night in late July, 1976. The next morning we rode over to the apartment building on the upper east side where we first met. And now we are preparing for 2017 when our baby will become a bride exactly one week after we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.
But while all of this good stuff is happening in my personal life, my writing life is taking me in a different direction. I am at work on a novel about two troubled marriages in the same family and the role karma plays in choosing our mates. Here is a peek at the premise of WHEN WE COME BACK.
If we return from a past life is it for love or redemption?
Two roommates at Syracuse feel an inexplicable attachment to an entitled frat boy with whom they have little in common. Years later, one marries him and the other moves across the country to forget him. But when an unplanned reunion reveals that their shared history may not have ended with graduation, destiny is blamed for their imperfect souls and the shocking fallout. Oh, that crazy karma.
It is an odd confluence of emotions to be reflecting on the joys of wedded life when I am immersed in the worlds of a bored newlywed couple and the bride’s parents, who will not be buying anniversary cards this year unless Hallmark has a line that says things like, I fucking hate you. Please die. There is so much tension, drama and secrets that even though according to my outline I know how the story ends, my characters are in full bloom and could shock me.
I like to say, no surprise for the writer than none for the reader, either.
But how does my personal life mesh with my writing life? Sometime not well. Recently, my husband asked what was up with my attitude. “Are you mad at me?” Of course, after four decades there’s a good chance he’d done something to piss me off. But this time he was innocent. Turns out that I was so riled at my fictional husband I couldn’t turn off my anger. I went back to my manuscript and unleashed a torrent of blistering words. Then I felt much, much better.
One day I’ll close the chapter on these deeply flawed characters (and miss them as I do all of my characters), but it will be best as living with them is like living with Liz, Dick and they’re messed up kids. Then I’ll return to dealing with normal-people marital problems, like who is making the holidays this year and must we invite the other side of the family.