The alarm was set for 12: 45am.
I'm not sure how long it went off until I reached for the phone on my nightstand, groggy eyed and confused. Neruda, our chihuahua, stumbled off of his perch and blinked sleepily before snorting and settling in deeper in the covers against Russ. Trulee got excited and thought we were going to have a midnight excursion out in the park. She pranced around as I got dressed before finally giving up and running back into our room where there was warmth and snuggling.
It was a year ago. Earlier in the night, I picked up a red-eye shift for my new side hustle with Postmates. I wasn't entirely sure I could make it until 4am, but after a nap and a few stretches, I thought maybe it would be at least adventurous. I made some yerba mate, downed a glass of water, and sat in my writing chair until the tea kicked in and I felt like I could drive.
I knew the route I would take. MOPAC to 183 to Lamar and then Guadalupe. As I inched past Buffalo Exchange and Torchy's and Kerby Lane, my suspicions were proven correct: in a college town, all you need to do to find the current of life is to drive toward campus. And so I did. Packed dining rooms, sidewalks crawling with laughing and wide awake 20-somethings, whooping and hollering and carrying on as if it were stupid early on a Friday morning and they had yet to fall asleep.
My order came in sometime after 3am. I grabbed the necessary items and tapped the GPS pointing me down south. I was delivering to an apartment complex off S. Congress. If you've seen a movie with Austin as its backdrop, you've seen this road. As I dropped off the food and hurried to my car and waved at early morning (late night?) conversationalists setting up posts on their porches, I began to notice something: the inherent buzz of silence every city envelops when bars begin to shut down and dance halls close their doors. And then I thought of earlier that evening, sitting behind my computer and chatting with some of my favorite people.
My friend Lakin was talking to us about how desires — and ultimately questions — drive our lives. For her, the question is who are you? She wants you to know your identity — and to root down into who you're meant to be in this skin and bones.
I was thinking about this while driving home, wondering about what question drives me. I thought of those I'd come in contact with that evening: the various drive-thru attendants, the sleepy voice on the other end of the phone needing a midnight snack, the figure on the other side of a gate waiting for his delivery, the laughter from porches ricocheting off nearby concrete, the couple in the car next to me, the lone driver sharing S. Congress with me — and my question, the one that fuels me and keeps me going, rose up to greet me.
I want to know your story. But more than that, really. Because anyone can sit down and share some coffee and spill what happened to us when we were 5 and 10 and 17 and 23.
I want to know the story burning in your bones and just waiting for permission to stretch its wings. I want to know the story of how words began to settle into your soul and never let you rest. I want to know your story. You are not just the story you tell others. You are not just the tiny piece of worry that wrinkles your eyes normally turned up into the fringes of a grin. I want to know the whole of you, because there is where I believe we find our depth.
I am not just Elora, story coach and author and part time personal shopper. I am Elora, lover of story and aesthetics and lavender. I want to name my daughter Harper Gold. I have way too many story ideas to capture. I'm beginning to love blueberries and the way greens taste in a smoothie. I love to dance. I used to love to sing and am trying to find that piece again. I find comfort in dried-gesso on my fingertips and am fiercely loyal to those who find a way to break through all of the boundaries I place between me and others. I'm hopelessly in love with my husband. I cry a lot and when I don't, I know I'm running too hard. I want to travel but I crave home when I'm away. I'm a mystic, and I look for magic in my every day life because I believe it exists. I love Beyonce and Justin Timberlake and Debussy and AWOLNATION and Florence and the Machine and George Gershwin. Pragmatism depresses me but a dose of reality is good for my dreamy-feet that can't stay on the ground. I am all of these things and more. And what weaves these pieces together is my story. The one I've lived and the one I've yet to tell.
I pulled into the driveway around 4:30 in the morning. I kicked off my boots and cuddled with my pups and slid underneath the covers, heart racing with inspiration and life. And as I drifted off to sleep, there was a smile on my face. Because one of the most beautiful things about this question is that as a writer, I'm constantly reminded of the threads that join us together through story. What is your story? As a human, as an artist, as a romantic, cynic, analyst, dreamer? The answer to this question is the currency that will keep us connected, reminding one another that a living, breathing human waits on the other side.
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