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project hot air balloon

balloon, part 2 - Laura

By 11:48 PM , , , , ,

The first thing Laura said to me on our way to dinner was,

"I did a crazy thing and booked a flight on a balloon for us this Friday." She had just arrived at my doorstep 15 minutes earlier from LA. It was Wednesday evening. And we hadn't seen each other in 11 years.

Laura and I bonded over screenwriting in 1999. Our writing instructor asked me if I could give a young writer from Brazil a ride to the workshop, since I was the only one coming from the city. Even though English is her second, maybe even third language, I immediately saw that she was a stronger and better writer than any of the other American writers in our advanced workshop. During our all-day table readings, she and I would literally and figuratively be on the same page about the scenes and characters; our instructor quickly grew reliant on us to solve many of the group's story problems.

We talked on the phone for hours about plot lines and films. When we finally read each others' scripts, we found a kindred spirit in one another and we pushed each other tirelessly during her brief stay in California. We even went down to LA to pitch our stories, but that's a whole other adventure, so I'll leave that for another post.

Even though she returned to Brazil with her husband to resume her writing career at the end of the season, we stayed in touch over the years. And this January, she stole a few days from a quick project in LA to visit her old friend and to do some research in San Francisco.

She's one of few with whom I can skip the formalities and tedium of catching up and dive right into the deep end of the pool. So it came as no surprise, even though I was speechless for a few seconds, that she picked this as the thing for us to do for the day after tomorrow.
The main character in Laura's latest novel rides a hot air balloon.

When she came across a postcard with balloons on the face at the car rental place that day, she knew she had to book it. She didn't know if I'd even be game, but she took a chance.

When I told her that I would do it without thinking twice, she seemed truly surprised.

"Really? You would?"

"Of course," Now it was my turn to surprise her,

"I've been writing a blog for 18 months called Project Hot Air Balloon. I've been waiting to do this!"

I said this as I was parallel parking my car in front the restaurant and we started laughing and screaming hysterically. If there were passersby on the street they probably thought we were murdering each other.

I knew one day I would ride a hot air balloon.

I also knew it would happen in a special way, and that it would be an extraordinary event.

I didn't want to plan it, so I hadn't.

But I did not think that it would happen so soon.
In fact, I thought that it would be a long time from now when I was done with this blog. But now I know that it's only just begun (respect, to Karen Carpenter).

Laura took care of the details. I asked her no questions. I didn't know the where, the who, when what or even the how much of it. None of that mattered. They were details. And this was a big picture day. And I felt in my bones that everything was all happening as it should.

I told my boss on Thursday that I wouldn't be coming in on Friday. Again, details.

It's been 11 years since we last saw each other, but we're picking up right where we left off. In fact, during our time apart, we both experienced a lot of wonderful, tragic, frightening, inspirational, terrible, joyous, blissful and unspeakable things that either kept us writing or kept us from writing. As we're about to grow into our next stage as writers, our paths are crossing once again, now with actual experience under our belts, not just twenty-something know-it-all theories about life.

Laura and I talked non-stop for three days. We drank, we ate, we ran around town, we caught up and made some big picture plans. We learned a good lesson inside this wicker basket, and that the details take care of themselves if you go after the extraordinary events.
Thank you, Laura.

* NOTE: This is a big deal, so I'm going to be posting a few more times about the event. Just brace yourself.

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  1. Now, I see the whole picture.
    God bless you and Laura. Papa