Twenty-six cent gas! Our full tank of gas had cost nine dollars and thirty cents. We left Wichita nine days before Christmas, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 1975. For winter break, my boyfriend, two friends and I were flinging ourselves at Mexico, hoping for salvation of one kind or another.
Four months later I returned to Wichita, alone. I had lost a bit of weight. I was still alive, although a Mexican Presidential guard had waved his gun at me, and an irate householder had actually shot at me (missing, thankfully) for playing Superball with some new-found friends around midnight in a suburban Guatemalan City cul de sac. I had driven the van right through a trio of ghosts on the highway. When the van’s brakes had died on a downhill mountain slope, I had survived by grabbing the emergency brake in a timely way. I had been penniless and hungry in San Jose, Costa Rica. I had eaten megadoses of psychedelic San Isidro mushrooms. I had lived through a 7.3 earthquake.
But now I was back home, in safe, beige Wichita. I put my trip journals in a box and got on with a clean sheets, three-meals-a-day American life.
More than two decades later a story tumbled out which had been incubating from the raw material of that trip.
And that is the genesis of the sixty thousand words of Wild and Precious Life.
Now that the book is written, what’s next? The traditional route is to look for an agent, and maybe I’ll do that.
In the meantime, my friend Beverly has invited me to read a chapter at her Celebrating the Arts Salon on November 22. Although I have read parts of the book to friends and family over the past year, this event feels different and more important. I am running toward an open door.