One Breath, One Night, in Los Angeles

It’s been a busy week already, this first week of September. I got some truly incredible news about my book on Tuesday morning, that I can’t share here right now, but which has elevated my week and my perspective to unmatched heights. It’s cast a strange haze over the way I view my life, my past, and all the things I’ve worked so hard for that are just now becoming my present.

Last night I went to see my friend Jillian Lauren read from her brand new novel PRETTY at Book Soup in Hollywood. I sat in traffic for over an hour just trying to get east of the 405, called Greg on the verge of tears because I was so frustrated and sure I’d be late, finally got there only to walk in the door and run smack into an ex-boyfriend I was unprepared to see, and finally, and thankfully, realize that I’d made it in time to hear Jillian read.

She’s a beautiful woman and a fantastic writer and it was fun to be at my all-time favorite Los Angeles bookstore for the launch of her new book. Watching her, I couldn’t help envisioning myself in her place five months from now. I’m not sure how things will turn out, but I really hope that my launch party is at Book Soup too. I also couldn’t help thinking about how I might not even be imagining such a thing were it not for Jillian herself.

When her first book came out over a year ago, a memoir called SOME GIRLS, I sent her a fan note through Facebook just telling her how much I liked the book. She wrote back right away, reminding me that we’d actually met each other several years back when she came in to volunteer at 826LA and I interviewed her. Thus commenced an online friendship that led to her helping me with my book proposal and agent search for THE RULES OF INHERITANCE. Jillian was uncommonly generous with her advice and I relished the day that I got to shoot her an email telling her I’d just sold my book to Penguin — the same publishing house where her books have come out of. I’ve vowed to repay the favor to other struggling writers and have already done so a couple times over this year, knowing it’s something I’ll probably do for the rest of my life since I can’t imagine that I’ll ever stop feeling grateful that people helped me along my path.

After the reading last night I had to rush to a workshop, but the moment I stepped out onto the sidewalk on Sunset Boulevard, I sucked in a breath and paused for just a minute. Cars were rushing by and the billboards and signs along the strip glowed in the buoyant nighttime sky. Palm trees swayed overhead and I could hear laughter coming from down the street, could smell cigarette smoke from somewhere nearby. A warm breeze, leftover from the hot afternoon, wrapped itself around me and for just one moment I let myself lean back against a low brick wall and take it all in.

Los Angeles.

A rush of memories settled over me. Myself at age 25, my dying father, troubled relationships that have come and gone, hopes and dreams and awful depths of sadness waded through. It was all there with me for a moment, swimming amongst the lights on the boulevard, through the night air. My past and present and all the things I haven’t even conceived of, merging for one fresh moment.

I took a breath.

And then another.

And then I turned on my heel and got in the car, skimming off into the abyss of Los Angeles and my next appointment.

12 comments

12 Comments

  • Wendy
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Yay for incredible news! Can’t wait until you can share it here with your readers. I love this idea of your past and present merging and this marvelous, marvelous future that lies ahead for you and your book.

  • Posted September 9, 2011 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    Congrats! And I Ioved your paragraph about LA. I always marvel at the fact that I can get nostalgic and wax poetic over hard times, times that I couldn’t wait to get through, when I look back on them. Maybe it’s LA, though. This city seems to have the power to make even bad memories seem a little magical! 🙂

  • Posted September 14, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Liz. Glad you understand!

  • Posted September 9, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    *love* this. I’ve been to LA only once or twice, but can picture this moment well with your words.

  • Posted September 9, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on your happy news! What a joy it is to watch this experience unfold for you here. I love reading about your experiences. It is wonderful to see so much goodness happening. I’m sorry to say this cliche, but it’s true – you are an inspiration!

  • Posted September 14, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Erika! Hopefully I’ll be able to share news here soon! So many exciting things happening.

  • eloise connelly
    Posted September 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Just pre-ordered your book and now look forward to receiving a package in Feb. I am so glad I found your blog and can share in the excitement of the next amazing stage of your life.

  • Posted September 14, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Oh, thank you so much Eloise!!

  • Jenny
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    It seems like you have mentioned previous relationships in a few recent blog posts. Perhaps it’s been unintentional, but it is sparking my interest because, one, I’m in the super hard process of ending a four-year relationship that I really wish could work; and two, I’ve often found myself wondering what your relationship journey to Greg was like. I so frequently relate to your writing (often laughing and/or crying aloud when I read your blog), I’ve actually searched through the archives for some wise platitude or story that would help me put my current heartache into perspective . So. Any tips? 🙂 And, thank you for continuing to write. I’m sure you have no idea how far and wide your words spread . . .

  • Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Hi Jenny,

    Yes, I was in two serious relationships before I met Greg. I haven’t written about them that much on the blog but I actually do write in depth about the different relationships I’ve had in my book. I know it’s a ways off before you can read it but maybe I can dredge up some words to help you for now. Ending a relationship is never easy. There will always be a lot of unanswered questions, and usually a bit, if not a lot, of doubt about whether or not you’re making the right decision. Not to mention that it’s always incredibly painful. I will tell you that when I met Greg and fell in love with him I experienced a period of profound gratitude for every relationship I had ever been in. I suddenly felt very strongly that each and every one of them — the good and the bad and the hard and the ugly — had all led up to me being in a place where I could meet him and fall in love. Hold strong and stay present! The future is near.

  • Jenny
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Aw, Claire. Thank you. You’re so right. The wavering is brutal. But I’m holding strong and staying present and can get through it. Plus, you’ve given me reason # 486 to read (and, undoubtedly, love) your upcoming book . . . How do I pre-order again? 😉

  • Posted September 22, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Jenny! You can absolutely pre-order again. 🙂

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