When I was in college chasing dreams of becoming an actress, my theatre professor encouraged me to become a writer.
Yes, it’s only hitting me now that he may have been lovingly nudging me away from acting. Oops, my urge to self-deprecate is showing. Nonetheless, his shove in the right direction was full of good intentions. In fact, he wanted me to follow him to another college and help him build a new theatre program there, but instead, I decided to change my major to creative writing and go full force in another direction. Nineteen-hours-a-semester-for-two-years-later, and I had forgotten all about my dreams of becoming an actress.
Before I left the program, he handed over three thin books. The artwork on the cover was beautifully eery and the pages opened up to envelopes filled with removable letters and artful postcards. It was the “Griffin & Sabine” trilogy by Nick Bantock, a voyeuristic-eye-candy-experience of love letters from a woman who resides on a fictional island to an eccentric London artist. The two of them had never met, but Sabine could somehow see Griffin’s paintings. After discovering a book with the same paintings she had envisioned, she contacted him. The two of them start a correspondence that reveals a connection that seems so unfathomable that Griffin begins to question his sanity and wonders whether Sabine really exists or if she is simply another piece of art developed out of his sheer loneliness.
My professor said to me, “I want you to turn these into a play. You can be as involved as you would like. You can direct it, star in it, or simply write it and walk away, but I believe this is meant for you to write.”
I sat and looked at the pages like it was a one-way ticket to success. There was no way I was going to fail with a man of this caliber allowing me to do this. This was a man who knows all the right people. One that had faith in me beyond what I thought I deserved. That was the problem. I had a hard time believing I deserved anything good that came my way.
For that reason, I couldn’t do it. For years, I pecked away at the keys, deleted pages, and stared at the screen… my mind numbed at the thought of writing this play. The camel finally broke its back, after an abusive relationship where I was made to believe all of the doubts I had ever had about myself and more. I threw the books in a box, and I shipped them back to my professor with an appreciative, thanks-but-no-thanks letter turning down his offer to allow me to take part in something he whole-heartedly believed I could do.
My mother always told me that it’s when I finally stop looking that I will meet the man of my dreams. I just didn’t expect it to be the day after I stopped looking.
A man with a photography blog in Georgia contacted me, innocently, through Word Press, to let me know he enjoyed my blog. I responded with another innocent message of thanks. At this time, I was debating whether or not to date a man who reached me via match.com. See here & here. Long story short, I was stood up and got into my first car accident in the same day. I gave up. I threw my hands up into the air in realization that this was not the right time for me to date. Everything felt forced and inorganic.
In the meantime, “Georgia” and I continued to e-mail each other. Our e-mails got longer and longer, and I realized that I looked forward to his e-mails more than I wanted to admit to myself. I’ve always been a dreamer, but to meet a man who lives in Georgia when I lived in Texas seemed like a pipe-dream and even if I did meet him, we would have to fight the uphill battle of getting to know each other long-distance. He sent me a picture of himself with his niece he was about to visit and I died inside. Not only was he smart, funny, and talented, but I was incredibly attracted to him as well. I was in trouble.
Before he left for his trip to Detroit to visit his sister and niece, he gave me his phone number. I promised to call him on his way back to keep him company on his long drive back to Georgia. I didn’t call him a second sooner, as I did not want to disturb his time with his family, but we texted like fiends while he was there. When I finally heard his voice, I was a goner. His laugh sent me over the edge, and his voice was soothing and immensely happy. Eventually, I started to feel that it wasn’t enough. I wanted more, so I came up with a plan to send “Georgia” my new copy of “Griffin & Sabine” that I purchased after sending my professor’s copy back. My plan was to place my own letter in the last envelope asking to meet. Instead, he got the jump on me. He purchased a plane ticket to Austin and booked a hotel room at the Hotel San Jose… only a couple of blocks away from me on South Congress. We made plans to meet on South Congress, to simply walk towards each other and meet in the middle. He had only seen two photographs of me from my blog, and I only had seen the one from his e-mail and one on his blog. I wanted us to really see each other for the first time when we met, so for only that reason, I had rejected any face-chat/skypish type plans. Thank goodness his romantic ideals and mine are one in the same, and he accepted this plan whole-heartedly.
I got home from work the Friday of his arrival and my heart was pounding. I threw on my red dress, freshened up, and knocked back some Jameson… straight from the bottle.
He saw me from a ways back; I didn’t see him until I was about ten feet away, but the moment I saw him, I knew. We held hands immediately. I think it only took about fifteen minutes for us to kiss (whoops!). It took the entire weekend to stop giggling at each other. Saying goodbye to him at the airport was one of the most difficult goodbyes I’ve ever had to do, but he came back the very next weekend. He is an artist and graphic designer, so his job allows him to work 100% from home through a computer. After he spent time with his family in Georgia for the holidays, he is returning to Austin tomorrow, indefinitely. My life has changed so much, so quickly. It’s difficult for me not to simply gush in this post, but I do have to say that I have never been this happy. He is everything I have dreamed of since I was a little girl and more.
He is my Griffin.
It’s time for me to write my old theatre professor another letter.
I can’t wait to see you, Georgia.
-Ardent in Austin