June 16, 2013, was a pivotal day in my life.
First, you have to understand what a mess I was in on that date. I had just resigned from a job that I couldn't deal with any longer, and I was interviewing across the country, preparing myself for what seemed like an inevitable out-of-state move. I was finishing up my second year of cohabitation with my first husband, a necessary evil as we both desperately wanted a divorce. I wanted to move out, but I had no place to go. Family back in my homeland were less than supportive of my situation. And, to cap it all off, I was in love with a man who was trying to decide between me and the woman he thought was his ideal. He was away that very weekend visiting her, and I believed they were making plans for their future together.
Basically, my life was a complete mess. I had no job, no place to live, no family support, and no partner. So I went to the mountains that weekend. Seems like an obvious choice, right?
I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina, to seek some solitude and finish writing Mountains Climbed. I had finished Mountains Wanted while visiting Charleston, South Carolina, so North Carolina seemed like the ideal place to finish the second book in the series. Not to mention the fact that the book happens to end in that geographic area.
I remember sitting on the bed in my hotel room furiously typing away on my laptop, the final words of the 500 page novel pouring down into my fingers from my brain. Tears streamed in thick channels down my cheeks. The Mountains Books were an allegory for my relationship with the man I loved. I had vowed to write the happy ending that I didn't ever believe we would have together. The whole time I was writing the ending, I was mourning the fact that it wouldn't be coming true.
Two days later, when I picked him up from the airport, he told me he had decided not to pursue marriage with the "other woman," the "Maggie" of our story. Yes, this was amazing, welcome news, but it didn't mean I automatically got my happy ending. It didn't mean he and I would walk off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Not yet, anyway. It just meant the wheels were in motion.
Slowly, so very slowly, things began to fall into place over the next two years. I found a place to live - with him - temporarily at first. Then, eight months later he asked me to stay indefinitely. I finally closed the door on my first marriage after nearly three years of separation. Then I found a job - not a great job, but a job nonetheless.
In October, after a little more than a year of living together, he asked me to marry him. Everything seemed to be falling into place except for two huge things: my estrangement from my parents and siblings; and my job, which was stringing me along, giving me more responsibility but refusing to give me a raise or give me permanent, full-time status.
Admittedly, the family situation was never resolved. But, I gradually made peace with it. It's taken me nearly a year and a half of horrible sadness and anger, mostly directed inward, to finally be able to say that I've moved on. It is what it is. They will never accept the person I've grown up to be, and that's okay.
And then, the final peace of the puzzle - the job - fell into place in the last few weeks. I not only found a new full-time job with benefits, but I also started a freelance social media management gig that will nicely round out my income. In addition, I had a great release for Fat Girl, and doors continue to open for me with my writing career as well.
It took TWO full years for things to finally sort themselves out. And maybe that's why it feels like the time is right to finish out my Mountains Trilogy. I began writing Mountains Loved this month. I am in love with the characters Sarah, James and Abby. I tried to outline all 20 chapters today, but to be honest, I only know the beginning and the ending at this point. The middle parts are not clear to me yet. But just like everything gradually came into focus with my life, I know the same will happen with this book. And in a few months, the characters will have revealed to me what happens in the final chapters of their story.
Call it a case of life imitating art, but all I know is that two Junes ago when I was finishing Mountains Climbed, I thought I was heading off to climb an entirely different range of mountains than the ones I ended up climbing. Now, standing on the peak, looking out across the vast distance I covered, all I can think is that I'm finally home.