Wednesday, August 13, 2014


The Space Needle in Seattle, seen from the
Chihuly Glass Museum
My husband and I are moving again.  Four years ago, in the spirit of embracing change, we moved from Anchorage, Alaska to the very heart of the urban core of Seattle.  These last four years have been exhilarating, but exhausting too, and we’ve decided to take one step away from the chaos that comes with living in the inner city. 

So once again we're sifting and sorting, deciding what gets left behind and what travels with us to our next home.  That’s not a quick process.  Yesterday I opened a box of old papers and documents to find the ten New Year’s resolutions I made on the first day of January 1982. 

I can hardly remember the person I was in 1982.  Resolution number 2 was “Practice piano.”  I think I gave up the piano shortly thereafter, finding that learning a musical instrument as an adult, with no childhood exposure to musical training, was just too much for me.  But I did try.  Resolution number 6 was poignant:  “Write home more often.”  By then I had already lost my father, and I was living far away from my mother, in those days before email and when long distance phone calls were expensive.  I still have (in the same box, it turns out) many long letters from my mother, who wrote about the new life she was bravely forging on her own.  I hope I did write home more often. 

And resolution number 10 was “Have lots of fun.”  The years since have brought lots of fun, and some heartbreak, achievements and regrets, and many, many lessons.  Sometimes I was brave, sometimes I ran away.  I didn’t know then the joys and challenges of raising a child.  I think back to the terror and pain associated with seeing a teenager teeter on the brink of some seriously destructive behavior and bad decisions.  Others with similar experiences told me then that he would emerge in his twenties, reformed and reinvented.  I wanted to believe it but couldn’t, but they were right and it happened.  That crooked path was all ahead of me in 1982.  In 1982 I hadn’t yet met the man who has shared my life for so many years.  Now it’s hard to imagine life without him.

Maybe the path of life should
come with a caution sign too...
"Joys, sorrows, perils and surprises ahead"
Which brings me, finally, to writing.  I’ve dabbled in writing as far back as I can remember, but I didn’t attempt to write a novel until a few years ago.  COMPASS NORTH is in no way autobiographical, but it’s a book that I couldn’t have written in 1982.  I didn’t yet have the decades of experiences and reflections to draw upon.  I’m not dismissing or discounting the work of the many talented younger novelists.  Much of that body of work is wonderful.  To them I would only say:  The books you are writing today aren’t the books you will be writing thirty years from now. 

My husband and I are excited about our move.  We’re looking forward to learning about a new neighborhood.  We’ll miss the fifty or more restaurants within walking distance of our front door, but taking a leisurely evening walk will probably be more pleasant. I’ve learned that big changes in life come with positives and negatives.  And I’m enjoying my time working on my new book, A LATE HARD FROST.  One of my resolutions this year (yes, I still make them) is to finish this book by the end of the year.  

So the box of old papers comes with us.  Maybe in another thirty-two years, I’ll open it again.

Visit Stephanie Joyce Cole on Facebook, or at her website
COMPASS NORTH is available in ebook and paperback formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

In 1982, I was having the time of my life in Atlanta, GA. All my friends were alive, our son cooked the holiday meals; our daughters were in school and employed, and I played tournament bridge four days a week. I wrote two poems, now published, but otherwise I wasn't writing.

Stephanie Joyce Cole said...

Julie, you have a good memory! (and...good memories)

Liz Fountain said...

What a lovely piece, Stephanie.

In 1982 I was still writing tortured high school poetry and song lyrics. Fortunately none have been published.

So far, every decade's been better than the previous one, with the exception of a few very tough years. Fingers crossed that trend continues!


Big Mike said...

Heck, I still had all my wavy hair and muscular figure. That was long ago in a far away memory.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)