From the outside looking in, Lexie and Landon Elliott have the perfect marriage, the perfect children, the perfect life and a thriving business. But when the Charleston, South Carolina, couple decides to chuck it all and move to Costa Rica, tongues begin to wag. Nobody knew that the business was failing, and that their marriage was unraveling at an alarming pace. Hopetown Road takes the reader on a journey of what happens when a seemingly perfect family tries, and fails, to keep up with the Joneses.
I think my "Insight Title" says it all.
In order to drum up the raw and painful emotions required to pen this particular segment, I was forced to take myself back to the day my parents told my sister and I that they were divorcing. You really do feel as though the floor underneath you has dropped out, and you are suspended in mid-air. Within a single second in time, the life I had been living, was over. It was just that quick, and it was just that simple.
While writing this particular chapter, I was struck with how close this was to my own life. I once had had a long-term relationship that was pretty great. Until, it wasn't. I knew in my gut that he had cheated on me. But man oh man, he was an excellent liar.
Haven't we all done dumb things while having too much fun?
The losses that Lexie and her children endure are beyond monumental, and nothing quite like what I have seen in my own life, although I have certainly seen my share. But it's not the fall that counts. Our successes in life is in the getting back up. It's in the recovery and acceptance, and in the moving on. We are all human, we will make great mistakes, and we will fall. Lexie's story is measured by huge successes, and crushing failure. But she's here to prove that it is all there to usher us into the next stage of our lives, and that success will be measured against how we handle our failures.
At some point in our lives, most of us will come to a place where important decisions will have to be made. I have been there probably more times than most, and it can feel as tenuous as perching oneself on the edge of a 1000 foot cliff, all ten, dangling. Lexie, once again, finds herself on this precipice of lessons yet to be learned.
Have you ever been simply traipsing through life, looking neither right nor left? Just getting up, doing the thing you do, all day long, without questioning a single move? When, suddenly...BOOM. A small but significant motion occurs?. Maybe it's something that you can't quite put your finger on. Maybe you don't even notice it at all, and if you do, you shake it off and keep moving? In this scene with Landon and Lexie, Lexie feels a tear in an otherwise perfect piece of cloth. It is tiny, but it is there. She knows tears always start out small, but unless you address them and sew them up immediately, they will eventually unravel the entire bolt of fabric.
As Lexie becomes more aware of the reality of their flailing business, she begins to pull away from Landon. She does not understand his inability to comprehend the slow descent of what they have worked so damn hard for. She is losing all confidence in his sensibilities, and she's very scared for them both. I have been exposed to a similar situation, and the nerve damage that it can cause a long-standing marital relationship can be extraordinarily damaging. Sometimes, beyond repair. It is a terrifying feeling, and a very slippery slope, indeed.
As I wrote this chapter, I searched through my memory bank, and could not come up with anything as terrifying as this. I conjured up feelings of loneliness so extreme that it made me feel physical pain. This piece was difficult for me to write because I couldn't imagine being in Lexie's shoes: the sheer impossibility of shouldering the news of her health with not a soul to lean on, and yet having to care for and protect her sweet, innocent daughter, who had asked for none of this. Enjoy.
Have you ever been blindsided? I have, and it honestly does make you feel like you are having an out of body experience. That exact feeling is what I drew upon when writing this particular piece. Focusing purely on Lexie, I put all those feelings and intense emotions into her when she gets blindsided by Landon. After sixteen years together, the shock and the psychological effects the news has on her are immeasurable. I had to go deep within my own self and scrape rock bottom to retrieve the memories of the despair and the heartache. The circumstances were different of course, but the pain was no less than Lexie's.
At one time or another in our lives, we've all overextended ourselves. This includes both psychologically and financially. I know I have surely done both. In this particular scene, Lexie and Landon are headed down a very slippery financial slope. They are mentally buoyed by a huge profit from the sale of their previous home, and though the initial intent was to put it towards the cost of the home, they added it as decorative assets for the home. This proves to be what became known as the beginning of the end.
We all know what it's like to lose ourselves and each other in a long-term relationship. It can be extraordinarily painful, or worse, we simply go numb. We ignore all the things that have become so wrong with our lives and we go forward each day. After a partnership of eleven years, this is where Lexie and Landon have found themselves. There is no sex, and no alone time together anymore. The kids and their thriving business are the very center of their world. In this scene, they wake up to what's been missing for so long: Fun and lightheartedness. The laughter feels wonderful and so new. All at once, Lex and Landon are united in their happiness.
I have spent many summers on Nantucket Island, and will always have wonderful memories there. I have also had to bury both my grandparents on the island. They are both interred at a little church in Sconset, in a garden blooming all summer long with cornflower, periwinkle, and white snowball hydrangeas. Their Memorial stones are side by side, adjacent to the stone wall which serves as the perimeter of the garden. For Lexie, her grandfather's passing marks the beginning of the end of her summers on the idyllic island. Being there with Landon and her mom is bittersweet, as she knows what will come next. They will have to sell their family home and close the chapter on twenty nine summers, and countless Christmases. But the three power-down together, and leaning on each other, they get through this very tough time.
Everybody remembers buying their first home. It's thrilling, scary, and amazing, all at once. For Landon and Lexie, this home represents their future together, and the wonderment of having the world at their fingertips. They know that, from this day forward, anything is possible.
When I penned this section on my book, I was brought back to a time when I had been involved in a long term relationship. I was in my early 30's, and without warning, my sex drive went into hibernation. Because my life was so hectic, I had barely noticed. It's an insideous thing, no longer having any desire to make love to your significant other. There are many emotions and feelings involved, but most of all there's guilt. Consequently, we dived even more headlong into our careers, effectively sweeping the issue under the rug. It was so much easier that way. Unfortunately, a relationship without sex cannot survive. We lasted a year after this revelation. This was a very tough time for me. This scene in Hopetown Road taps in to the complexity of those emotions that I experienced.
It's never fun introducing your significant other to your parents. The nervousness can be overwhelming. Approval is desperately sought; the possibility of rejection, however, hangs in the air. This is the case for Landon and Lexie in this scene, which was inspired by a memory from my twenties. I was dating a young man named Michael, who came from an uptight Catholic family. He was a true mama's boy. Yep, she was still making his bed. I was neither Catholic nor uptight. On my way to dinner with his family for the first time, I stopped to pick up a stray kitten. It was scared and bit right through my finger. I arrived at Michael’s house bleeding and carrying the frightened kitten, my heart pounding with nerves. Confirming my anxiety, it was clear from his mother’s first glance at me that she greatly disapproved. I felt like turning around and screeching away, but I stood my ground. It was the most uncomfortable evening of my life. Landon and Lexie fair much better with Lexie’s mom. She feels the love between them and instantly connects with the nervous young man standing before her. She has mixed emotions, though, as she knows this relationship may not withstand the imminent move in Lexie's future.
Falling more in love with the same person every day is a very heady experience. It's exciting, terrifying (why they call it "falling"), and amazing... So when Lexie finds out that Landon had quit his job of five years, left family and friends behind, and had driven the 3000 miles across the country to be with her, she is at once god smacked, and thrilled beyond measure. I remember falling in love, and boy oh boy, it can really mess up your brain, and the direction of your life. In Lexie, I presented this obstacle for a little tension, not only with herself, but also with Charlie, Landon, and the City of San Francisco itself.
Saying goodbye has always been the most difficult thing in my life to do. It is unmanageable to me, and creates sadness in my heart beyond logic. Call it abandonment issues, or whatever. It is because of this that I hang onto unhealthy relationships way beyond their expiration dates. When I wrote this scene, I am inside Lexie's head, feeling her sadness at saying goodbye to the love of her life. Lexie is a very strong woman, and she knows that staying in Sarasota would be a complete failure, and that she needs to leave. Her inner conflict is evident, but in the end, she does the right thing.
As I wrote this scene, I drew from my days as an award-winning interior designer as well as a mother who had experienced the loss of a pregnancy. I understand Lexie's strong need for a creative outlet, especially as a coping mechanism. Compelled to move forward with her life, Lexie tosses all logic aside and borrows money that she and her husband have no business borrowing. This single decision sets in motion a percipitous slide into stress and financial instability, which ultimately becomes unsustainable.
When I write, my intention is to tell a riveting and compelling story. I want you, the reader (even when you're late for an important meeting), to feel that the world must wait because you can't put down my book. I work very hard to immerse you in each scene, so that you can smell what I have smelled, see what I have seen, hear what I have heard, and feel what I have felt. I began writing Hopetown Road more than eight years ago. Through all those years and edits, the subject of my book stayed the same. What changed during that time was my life and my perspective. This forced me to continuously rethink, revisit and rewrite in order to to make sense of it all.
This was the first time the family had seen Landon since August. He'd been in Costa for just a couple of days, dropping Beck off after his elbow surgery. That he was on his phone the entire weekend, with whom Lexie did not know, (though she found out later), and that they hadn't so much as kissed, had set alarms bells off in Lexie's head. So, they went through the weekend on autopilot, until Monday morning, when her world came crashing down.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish