Yesterday I took a day off from my life as a fabulous writer of southern romance and women’s fiction, and the reason is pretty spectacular. Check him out:
Yes, that’s a cute little baby pup. He’s my birthday present. (My birthday, incidentally, is Friday.) I started out thinking I wanted a kitten for my birthday, because, honestly, I’m more of a cat person than a dog person. But then my path crossed this little pup’s, and it was love at first sight. Seriously, I fell in love with his picture. You see, he was an auction item at my kids’ school (hence the name, Freddie Falcon–named after the mascot), and I handled putting auction items on a Facebook page for the school. So I was ONE of the first to see Freddie’s baby picture. And I fell in love.
Here was the quandary. Freddie was not part of the silent auction. Silent auctions are easy. You pick a couple of things you’re interested in and write down your number and check back a couple of times to make sure you haven’t been outbid. Very simple for someone like me who doesn’t like to draw too much attention to herself and really isn’t comfortable at all in the limelight. I know what you’re saying. “Oh, come on. She writes romances. She takes stuff from her head, writes it down and publishes it for other people to read. And then she asks us to buy it. Now she wants us to believe she doesn’t really want us to pay attention to her?”
Yeah. But that’s different. It really is. Most of the time when I’m writing, it’s not like it’s coming from me at all. I mean, my heroines couldn’t be any different from me. I went from writing Alicia (Where the Heart Lies), who has to be my most courageous heroine to-date and way better of a person than me, to Cady (Ducks in a Row), a deeply flawed woman who is extremely selfish and someone I hope I’ll never be. Cady was fun to write, and I won’t deny I have some of her same foibles, but at times I really didn’t like her very much. And I wondered more than once if Alicia was a little too perfect. Her only real flaw was self-doubt.
So you can see that I don’t write my life story when I write. These characters are not me, and I always feel like they are the ones in the limelight. Live auctions require active participation and if you win a sought-after item, it’s you people are paying attention to. But I was in love with this little dog. What to do? I made a resolution to step outside my comfort zone. I try to do that every now and then anyway, so it’s nothing new, but this was really terrifying for me.
As luck would have it, I left the auction for a moment on an errand and came back after Freddie’s lot came up. I walked in, stood there frozen at the sight of the puppy picture I’d fallen so hard for on the screen. Moment of truth. Did I dare? My heart was pounding in my throat, I stood at the back of the auction, sick to my stomach, terrified, as the auctioneer called for bids. Then something in me snapped into place and my arm went up with my bid card. Oh my God, I did it!
But now I was in for it. The bids went on and the auctioneer called out again. I raised my hand, half afraid I was going to fall over in the too-high heels I’d worn. I longed for flipflops or even flats. I’m standing there in a cocktail dress in high heels participating in a live auction. Was this really me? I don’t wear cocktail dresses, and the only heels I wear are on my cowboy boots. My head whirled.
And then it came down to me and one other bidder. A couple of friends came to stand next to me for support. Maybe the other bidder loved that puppy, too. Probably she did. The parents of the kids who go to this school are wonderful people. No matter who bought him, he was going to be pampered and loved and played with. All these thoughts rushed through my pounding brain and I realized I’d lost track of the bidding. I whispered to my closest friend: Am I the high bidder? Not yet, she hissed back. My hand went up and Freddie was mine.
I am not joking when I tell you I still hadn’t recovered when they brought him to me and I held him for the first time, but the panic went away. I’d done it, and although it might seem like a small thing to anyone else, it felt like a huge triumph to me.
And that’s why I took yesterday off from almost everything. Everything except playing with my kids and my new dog, that is. We’ll call it a breathing moment.