Crazy, Polish and Searching For Signs From God
So, there I was minding my own business ... transforming from one era of my life to another, when I woke up in the family home I grew up in in Elmhurst, Illinois. This is hardly breaking news. CNN and E! could care less. A Kardashian with an oversized backside I am not. What I am is a befuddled, blond, Polish guy just shy of his 50th birthday—thanks, I, too, think I look spectacular for my "age"—who has suddenly found himself living back with his Polish mother again in her truly immaculate home—you could eat off of the wooden floors here, let me tell you. This is big. How on Earth did I get here?
Let's see now ... I recall being in Califonia and asking for a sign from above about what to do with my life. (Yes, you, too, may tire of hearing me talk about asking for "signs.") After that, somehow, I wound up giving up my job (well, it was given up for me, thanks to Divine Intervention!), my home, left all the friends I knew so well—just like Mary Tyler Moore and everything (young ones: Google that reference)—and wandered into the spirtual unknown by way of Yosemite and, later, Menomonie, Wisconsin—MENOMONIE???? And all to finish writing a memoir about my Polish family. Dear God, let's not get into all that now. Stalin's involved. Deportations of the 1940s. A family tale of survival beyond belief and all those ghosts of 1-2 million Poles living on through me. At least that's what it felt like. It's not for the faint of heart, although, I have found some dark comedy in it all (inside of me!), but the point is this: It's really much much too early in our relationship to get into all that messy stuff now. (My book, Chasing Grace, comes out in January. Have at it.)
Back to the here and now: A few days ago, I found myself laying (or is it lying there, I always forget) on the uber soft pillows of my mother's guest room (Goldilocks would find them too soft, but why bring that girl into all this at a time like this?) recalling writing for hours on end all summer in that place called Wisconsin. There were cows there. Lots of them. And yet, ironically, not a drop of nonfat milk in the entire state. It was if the big W insists on paying homage to the creatures that roam their prairies and farmland—without stripping it of fat. But I digress .... Wisconsin and the cows merged with some thoughts of the San Francisco Bay Area—my old stomping ground—and I felt a pang to return to the life I had once lived. It was a good, vibrant life. I was editor of a prominent weekly magazine. I also freelanced as a TV host and segment producer for a variety of national outlets, covering Hollywood red carpet events and interviewed A-List celebrities—from Joan Rivers (may she rest in laughter) and Cyndi Lauper to Anderson Cooper and Steve Martin. After my 14-year gig as editor of the weekly magazine came to end—semi-corporate buyout but a blessing in disguise for me—I opted to take several months "off" to finish the memoir. I turned in the book to the publisher on Aug. 1, found my way down to suburban Illinois and after two weeks of creative post-partum, I opted for a third—and then a fourth. Mood swings happened.
And then September hit and my mental News Ticker issued the following report: "Former chubby blond Polish boy leaves Chicago roots, heads to Arizona, transplants in California, picks spiritual lint out of his navel for nearly 30 years and returns home to his Polish family only to hear his Polish mother fretting (loudly) one morning about how to log into SKYPE so that she can SKYPE with her Polish brother in Warsaw, Poland."
ME: "What's your password, mother?"
HER: "Password? I dunno. You need a password?"
ME: "Yes. What did you do when you first signed up?"
HER: "I dunno. Why are you asking me such things?" ....
Well, it was rather delicious banter. Three phone calls to Poland and an hour later, I located my Polish uncle's "handle" on Skype and a bevy of loud Polish banter happened. The screen on the other end was slanted and I could only see one half of my uncle's head and just the top of his wife's. No matter. Good juju was sent over the airwaves (you can take the boy out of California, but ...)
Thirty minutes later, I realized that, perhaps, the Universe might want me to remain here until the release of my book—dear Lord, that's in January!—and another thought emerged from the annals of my emotional energetic world: "I don't like the feel of LONG UNDERWEAR! And I'm out proper hair gel!"
I had SIRI call my old high pal for emotional reconnaissance. I was practically weeping: "What have I done? How did I get here? What do I do?"
Her advice: "If you are really going to move back here, sit down, make a list, take the drama out of everything and proceed with actions to finish what's on that list."
ME: "Is that how they do things here in the Midwest? I thought I'd chant on a mountaintop and wait for buckets of money to drop out the pretty sky?"
HER: "Yeah. You might want to dial it back a bit."
Ha. If that's even possible. Then again, maybe that's my lesson.
The thing about asking for signs from above is that oftentimes, you may be asked to wander farther down paths that are so unfamiliar. True growth may lie (or is it lay) there.
It's all "good," but rarely is it comfortable.
Which can only mean on thing for me at the moment: I may have to buy a damn parka!