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The Chronicles of Elizabeth Highland
The Journey Continues Volume II
By Elizabeth Highland
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Elizabeth Highland
All rights reserved.
Premonitions and Dreams
Pink Polka Dot Bikini
Details, Details, Details
Premonitions and Dreams
On my second night at the monastery this past July, I had the most interesting dream. It was summer in my dream, and the timing was the present. But something was different—I was in my old marital home, the home where I had lived for sixteen years. The home where I had raised my children.
I haven't lived in this house in more than ten years. As so often happens in divorce, the marital home gets sold. And so did mine. When I left my home the children were young. Freddie would have been about fifteen, Sarah about thirteen. It was an elegant, older Tudor-style house on a large treed property set well back from the road in the centre of downtown Toronto. In my dream it was late afternoon and I was reading. Freddie was sitting on my bed smiling at me. As I mentioned, the dream was in the present. It was me, now, and Freddie, now. Freddie is twenty-four. Ten years have passed—yet here Freddie and I are talking in our old house.
What I notice about Freddie is his skin. It's glowing and he is all smiles. He's dressed in a nice cotton shirt and pants. His blonde hair is cut shorter and he looks smart. I like him looking like this ... clean and pressed. But most importantly he looks happy. What mother doesn't want her child to be happy?
In the dream, I make a comment to Freddie about his skin. "Your skin! You look fabulous! You must be so happy!"
My son has suffered from psoriasis for the past ten years. He got it while we were living in this house. He'd had rough patches of skin on his elbows and knees as a youngster. I remember giving him oatmeal baths to soothe the itch, but it was never really an issue until he was about fifteen—then all hell broke loose. All of a sudden his legs had red rashes and scabs. I took him to the doctor who then sent us to a dermatologist. My doctor told me this could be a lifelong problem.
The dermatologist prescribed some cream and some special shampoo. The cream and the shampoo did nothing. Freddie's legs became so bad he didn't want to go to gym at school. This was unusual for him ... he was an athlete and gym was his favourite class. The problem was the boys wore shorts. Freddie was embarrassed to wear shorts—all because of the red rashes on his legs.
Anyways ... for ten years Freddie has had to deal with the effects of psoriasis, which as the years passed have gotten much worse. Nothing has helped him. The cream the doctors were giving him had steroids in it. He decided to use as little of that stuff as possible. He was afraid of getting cancer.
He called me really late one night this winter from Banff, where he was working. He'd had a bit to drink and sounded upset. "Mum ... I'm asking for your help. I've got these things exploding on my arms". I tried to tell him to eat healthier, cut out alcohol and pop—get to a sunbed. He told me he would try, but as the weeks passed I didn't see him making an effort. He seemed to be sinking into a depressed state, not something a mom wants for the child who is trying to make his way in this world.
So here he is this July, in my dream, looking like he has never heard of the word psoriasis. You can imagine the relief and excitement I felt for my son, along with all the new possibilities and directions his life could take.
My dream then took me into the second-floor hallway. A large arched window overlooks the front yard. I was leaning on the banister looking outside. What I saw was most confusing. My entire twelve-foot cedar hedge that lined our driveway and provided privacy from the street was uprooted and piled on the front lawn. I'd planted and watered that hedge fourteen years ago. Now it was all dug up?
I felt my lower back muscles seize up as I stood there gazing out at the front yard. You know that feeling after a day in the garden. You feel good from all the work you have done. Gardening and planting outdoors is a healthy activity—good for the soul, but it's hard on the back, no question.
My gaze then went downwards to the front hall. Rugs were rolled up with lamps piled on top. Picture frames were leaning against the rugs. Boy oh boy, I thought. You have a lot of work to do. My dream then took me outside. Now it was night-time and raining softly. I didn't seem to mind that it was raining. It was summer after all, and the rain felt warm and somehow comforting. I noticed the garbage bin and the recycling container at the end of the driveway. I simply walked calmly out into the night rain in my flip flops and PJs, collected both containers, and put them where they belonged at the side of the house until the next garbage day.
I remembered the dream the next morning as clear as a bell. What a strange dream! Why would I dream that I was back in my old house where I hadn't lived in more than ten years? I could see Freddie sitting on my bed smiling and looking so pleased that his skin condition was better. I could see all the cedars lying on the front lawn with their roots sticking upwards into the air. And the rugs all rolled up in the front hall—what was that all about?
The morning after my dream, a lama at the monastery asked me how I'd slept the previous night. I told him I'd slept like a log but recounted the details of my dream to him.
He listened and smiled and said, "Sounds like a good spring cleaning to me".
I answered, "I know what it means. I need to plant some roots".
I did want to plant some roots. I'd been all over the place in the last ten years. After the marital home had sold I'd bought a smaller house about a fifteen-minute drive away. The kids could commute to their respective schools without too much difficulty. But then they got older. Sarah was at university in San Francisco; Freddie was doing the working-at-ski-resorts routine. Having a house for just little ol' me seemed silly, so I sold it and moved to an apartment. Much easier to shut the door and travel from a condo/apartment. Your car is underground. Your mail is in the lobby mailbox. No snow to worry about on the roof. You don't have to worry about the pipes cracking open. It seemed so much easier!
And it is—easier, that is. For a single woman living in a condo, day-to-day life is much easier. But I missed having my kids around, and having the right partner to share one's life with was definitely on my wish list.
Now ... that Mr. Blumefield. What do you figure is going on with him? It's late July now ... I've been home from the monastery for ten days and starting back at writing. He knows I'm writing a book. I've told him he has inspired me to write—but I don't think he realizes I'm using his emails exactly as he has written them. Oops!
There are only about five people that know I'm writing a book. These are the same five people that know I'm having an online romance with a married man. A man who has been my friend for forty years. All these people know Tim. They have all sworn their pledge of secrecy.
I'd invited friends of both Tim's and mine to dinner at my condo before I'd left for the monastery. I'd invited Tim as well but he was not ready to visit me in Toronto. Oh well ... on with the show. Strangely enough Tim called his friend the afternoon of my dinner party. Apparently they hadn't talked in quite some time. Well ... Tim had been living in Lake Tahoe for the last eighteen years. We all get busy with our work and raising kids. Our friend Martin tells me he hadn't talked to Tim in about three years. Interesting that Tim chooses today to reconnect with Martin.
Anyways, Martin is all smiles and proceeds to sit on my couch and talk nonstop about Tim! Huh? Did Tim say something to him about me? He pulls out his cell phone and shows me a picture of himself and Tim and about ten others taken when they were teenagers in the mid-seventies, taken at Tim's cottage. The boys all have long shaggy hair. I know almost all of them. And Tim! There's that curly brown hair and that button face I so adore ... Dang! What's Tim doing? Singing into a ketchup bottle? My young Mick Jagger, with his shirt off, entertaining his guests. Always the consummate entertainer.
Martin then proceeds to tell me Tim has sold his house in Lake Tahoe and is moving to San Francisco in September with his family. He tells me all about Tim's new job with the wealth management firm. I'm smiling and listening politely to Martin ... but inside my head my thoughts are swimming. With his family—he is still with his wife? He is going to be living with her in San Francisco?
I'm feeling a little bit off kilter. I rest my hand on the granite island for balance. I feel like I have been hit with a ton of bricks. Calm down, Elizabeth. Don't let anyone see your fear.
I've known Martin and his wife, Michelle, for years. I was at their wedding. They are one of my favourite couples. It's clearly evident when you are around them how supportive they are of each other and how much they enjoy each other's company. This has been a good marriage. They must have been married for more than thirty years now. It's funny ... you may not see your old friends for years. But in about two minutes, it's as if you've just left off midway in your last conversation. Once a friend, always a friend. It's so wonderful! One of life's great treasures.
Andreas is here as well. Remember my genius inventor Brad Pitt look-alike buddy? He and Michelle are hitting it off ... Martin and I are talking about Tim and his family's cottage. I'm asking him about the rock in the centre of the cottage. Martin tells me there is also an outside rock that the deck is built around. He tries to pull up a picture of the deck-rock on his cell phone.
I tell Martin I was only at Tim's cottage once, in my early twenties. I explain I had a lengthy conversation with Tim's father in the living room of the cottage about the indoor rock his cottage was built around. I tell Martin it was the only time I met Tim's father but that I remember him being a tall, elegant man with dark, slicked-back hair and horn-rimmed glasses.
Michelle overhears this and pipes up. "He was a workaholic. Tim is just like his father".
I'm thinking, Really? Tim is a workaholic?
Martin smiles and tells me how much my dad likes Tim. Really? I'm trying to think of where and when my dad and Tim would have met. Martin tells me he and Tim were at my cottage years back—probably in their early twenties. I can't picture this scene, but Martin is grinning from ear to ear telling me how my dad got a kick out of Tim. This comment brings a smile to my face. I guess we all like it when our parents like our friends. And perhaps, just perhaps, Tim will be my new partner. My lifetime partner.
"My dad liked Tim?"
"Frank really liked Tim". Martin laughs.
Well, we enjoyed a fun evening—Martin, Michelle, Andreas, and me. Lots of laughs. I'd ordered Indian food. I'm not known for my culinary skills, but I set a pretty table and create a nice atmosphere with candles, wine, and music.
At the end of the evening I take Martin into my office and tell him I'm writing a book. My office has a fantastic view of Toronto's skyline. It's small but sexy.
Martin looks around and nods in approval.
"This is where it's happening, Martin. Right here. This is where my creative juices are flowing".
That evening I didn't tell Martin and Michelle what I was writing about. Andreas knew it was about my relationship with Tim, but he kept his mouth shut. Not one peep. Andreas is a good friend. He bounces his aircraft invention possibilities off me, and I bounce my writing progress off him. I think Michelle thinks Andreas is my boyfriend, but he's not. He's simply my friend. Maybe we were married in a past life. He screams at me enough. He gets frustrated that I don't remember all his scientific explanations. Well why would I? I'm not a scientist. I dropped science as soon as I could in high school. Simply not my forte'. Andreas and I have a unique relationship. We are like family.
Anyways ... as we were relaxing after dinner I got a phone call from Freddie. He was in Banff. He'd left his job to work with my ex-husband, Howard, for the summer in a sales position. Something had gone wrong, and he wondered if he could come to Toronto and stay with me for a few weeks while he looked for a new job.
"It will only be for a few weeks, Mom. I've got lots of friends who need roommates".
I was a little flustered. What do you mean something went wrong with the job your dad wanted you to do for him? Freddie gave me a bit of the rundown. Circumstances out of his dad's control. He wanted to arrive in a few days.
"Of course, Freddie. Let me know your flight arrival time and I'll try to pick you up at the airport if it's not too late".
"Thanks, Mom. I love you".
"I love you too, Freddie".
So now my six feet tall, twenty-four-year-old son was arriving in a few days to stay with his mom. I was flabbergasted at the story of the job with his dad but decided to keep that to myself and focus on the positive. My son needed me right now. I knew his psoriasis had been the worst it had ever been this past winter. Sarah, my daughter, had visited Freddie a few weeks earlier in Banff and gotten him into the summer sun with her, floating in a raft on a mountain river. He'd burned himself horribly ... but that burn had cleared up some of his rashes and scabs. Sarah had also been cooking more holistic food for Fred. Much different from his fast-food crap that he seemed to be addicted to. I mean fast food is okay now and then, but every day? All day?
I told Martin, Michelle, and Andreas that Fred was coming home. Michelle told me her kids knew Fred and Sarah and she always heard nice things about both of them. Martin told me us he was watching Shark Tank one night and remembered someone pitching a product that supposedly was a cure for psoriasis. He told me to Google Shark Tank and look it up. I told him I would.
Andreas leaves first. I walk Martin and Michelle to the elevator. It was a great evening, and best of all, Freddie was coming home. I'm not sure if Martin knew more about Tim and me than he was letting on. He did mention that he'd heard I was out in Tahoe twice. I guess Tim must have told him. I wonder if he'd told Martin I'd told him to "f**k off" when I'd asked if he had a separation agreement?
My dream! Fewer than ten days ago I had that dream in the monastery in California. Freddie sitting on my bed in our old house. His skin was perfect! All the trees had been dug up with the roots showing. Everything piled up in the front hall. Bringing in the garbage cans in the rain.
Was that a premonition?
Freddie was arriving in a few days. It was hot and humid in Toronto. I had been writing nonstop since hosting my dinner party. It felt great to be back immersed in my work once more. I'd missed writing the past few weeks. One week at the monastery was spent doing 'brain wave' (a treatment to synthesize the creative and logistical sides of the brain) and the next week letting things settle. I had noticed changes. I seemed more focused. Less distracted. My sleep patterns were better as well. I wasn't tossing and turning as much. I seemed to fall into a deep sleep pretty much as soon as my head hit the pillow. You feel so much better after a solid night's sleep. Your skin looks better, refreshed—at least mine does.
A couple of emails had found their way into my inbox from a self-publishing firm. I knew I wanted to publish my work, but of course I had absolutely no idea how to go about it. I'd spoken to a friend who worked for many years with a traditional publishing firm. He told me one cannot simply walk into a publishing firm with her manuscript. No one would see her. No one would take a look at the work. He advised me to get an agent. Publishing firms worked through agents. Create a short, one-paragraph synopsis of my story and he would think of someone for me. Perhaps someone in New York. Oh yes—agents take a cut right off the top. For what? I thought. I'm the one who's done the work. I'm the one who's barfed out her guts.
Excerpted from The Chronicles of Elizabeth Highland by Elizabeth Highland. Copyright © 2014 Elizabeth Highland. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Premonitions and Dreams, 1,
Coming Home, 8,
Mystery Solved, 15,
The Push, 24,
The Aftermath, 31,
Cuba Bound, 37,
Pink Polka-Dot Bikini, 44,
Details, Details, Details, 52,
The Cover, 60,
Inspector Clouseau, 73,
Beep, Beep, Beep!, 85,
The Universe, 95,
Road Trip, 104,
Ears Burning, 123,
The Interview, 140,
The Mule and the Camel, 175,
The Dead Sea, 193,
The Edit, 202,
NY PitchFest, 216,
Moving On, 235,
The Big Bang, 246,
I've Got Mail!, 254,
The Holidays, 277,
The Revelation, 298,
About the Author, 313,