Grace Anne Stevens
It was a hot day last July, when I was sitting by the town pool, trying, only somewhat successfully, to keep myself under my new UPF50 sun protecting umbrella, when my phone rang.
Even though I suspected it would one of those endless telemarketers who ignore all the “Do Not Call” lists, I answered, ever ready to hang up immediately.
A pleasant voice introduced herself as being from Amtrak and asked if I was Grace Stevens. I said yes, and she proceeded to say, “You have been selected…”
I was about to hang up as my brain immediately went to that place where it thought it absolutely was a telemarketer wanting me to buy a timeshare somewhere.
..but I held on as she continued, “as an Amtrak Writer in Residence for 2016.”
My brain, now totally confused went into a freeze, not sure what this was all about. At that moment I had totally forgotten that I had sent in an application for this the previous fall, and I was working with my own editor to select a publication date for my second book. I asked her to repeat this and then it all came together for me.
That was almost nine months ago and now, the initial countdown has started, as I will be on my trip from April 30- May 30. I have been pinching myself for my good fortune and planning all of this for some time and now have the itinerary, tickets and planned stops along the way all set. I have been wrestling with naming this adventure, as I am one of those people and writers that most often start with a name and allow the words to find their way on to the page. I have two names that just may co-exist for this adventure.
The lost bucket list from my childhood will soon see the light of day.
I will see the Alamo, and the original Disneyland, and go to baseball stadiums in Atlanta, Anaheim, LA and SF, and at long last see some of the country as not just a fly-by on a business trip.
As I write this on April 1, it is T minus 30 days until I first get on my Amtrak train. I am excited, and oh, so honored. I am a little nervous about all the unknowns, but also looking forward to all the people I may meet. I used to be wound up so tight I would have never done anything like this. Now I am open to the adventures, and I look forward to sharing some of them with you.
I just need to remember to bring my towel….
(Some of you might remember this reference…)
The first is “Seventy by Thirty” which describes my sense that this summer I will be turning 70 years old, and for the first time in my life I am taking 30 days off on an individual adventure where I am allowing myself to let go of 100% control of what I may be doing. I have some ideas, but am actually willing to see where it all takes me.
The other is that this will be my “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood” tour of the US of A. Yes, part of me will be writing, but part of me will be seeing things I have always had dreams about but never thought I would actually do.
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