“Which one is yours?” she asked.
I quickly replied, “The broken one.”
Four grown women stared at the art display inside the Houston Center for Photography. We saw vintage mirrors and our mother’s mirrors and replicas of gold leafed, long-handled ones that still sit on the top of triple dressers back home.
It was an odd work, but one I could see on the wall behind a couch on the cover of some sort of shabby chic magazine.
I caught a quick glimpse of myself and noticed the sincere apprehension reflected just underneath the joy that was more obvious on the surface. Who am I to be here? Which character will I play, which one will I display or am I also, free to be myself?
For the last three days, I’ve been at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference at the Marriott Westchase. Surrounded by creative types, I was only slightly concerned about my ability to be with the best of the best, the people who took their craft seriously and had publishing dreams every bit as ambitious as my own. It was truly a crowd of beautiful people.
I’m getting only slightly better about stalking editors at writer’s conferences and for that, I am not sorry. Admittedly, when one mentioned she knew all the songs from Sound of Music AND was a fan of the hilarious book, Dragons Love Tacos, I knew I was just a few feet away from a fabulous new connection.
Pretty sure she didn’t get the memo.
This would have been a good time to reign in the ridiculous enthusiasm I was feeling in favor of a more professional approach. Perhaps not all editors from Manhattan want to be pulled into an elevator and squealed at.
I didn’t do that. But I was so, so close.
Earlier that day, I’d spilled coffee on my cream linen pants, the ones with the outstretched waist, held up only by a turquoise undershirt that fit fine until four years ago. For a good part of day one, I was both praying someone would love my new manuscript and that my pants wouldn’t fall off when I bent over to pick something up. Saying something stupid or offensive to someone is most assuredly, always a given.
Later, in Jennifer Hamberg’s, Finding the Funny session, I literally started crying when she read her super fun rhyming book, Monkey and Duck Quack Up. I found her hilarious and felt immediately sympatico.
I pitched my story to an editor and afterward, proceeded to follow her suspiciously down the corridor in an attempt to peak into her Highlights Barn bag because she must have inadvertently stolen mine. Why would we both have the exact same handbag from Honesdale, Pennsylvania? Am I right?
Connections were made, but mostly the ones in the car on a long drive down and back, having sensitive and somewhat serious discussions about who we are, who we love and where we come from.
While I absolutely adored the immense kindness, creativity and the opportunity to mix and mingle with people I felt destined to know, at times, I felt out of place, tip-toeing a bit around questions and conversations, certain that many times, I’d said the wrong things.
My heart’s desire is to love God and love people. I also have a lot of questions and found myself struggling with where and how my faith will fit into these new and hopefully lasting friendships.
As I travel on exciting, but less certain, less steady paths, I want the many mirrors of who I am to reflect the love and grace of God. Because the shards of glass in the broken mirror are a constant reminder of the change in the image I now see.
Not the fairest in the land, but someone who is extremely grateful and distinctly different than who I was, in the beginning. Someone with her own story, who also, has a few things to say and write about.