Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Treasure and Triumph

Treasure comes from the Greek word thesauros—which is also the root word for thesaurus.

Christmas is still weeks away (thankfully), but a dear friend has already given me a precious gift.

She’s about to move into a new house and is sorting through her belongings to separate trash from treasure. When we met for brunch this Sunday, she brought me one of those treasures.

What I received was a 9x12 envelope addressed to my friend in my handwriting. She pointed out the date stamp of June 3, 1985. Amazing to realize, that was half my life ago. Inside the nearly quarter-of-a-century envelope were four of my short stories and the opening chapter of a novel that I can’t even remember now if I ever finished.

I quickly flipped through the yellowing manuscripts, skimming the title pages, two of which I didn’t even remember. Brown rust stains surrounded the old paper clips. Corrections and additions were added by hand. There were also several different typefaces, indicating the various typewriters I had used to write the stories. (You know, back in the old days when we didn’t have computers on wireless, pocket-sized phones.)

The package also contained a hand-written letter on yellow legal paper—my favorite stationery at that time. Now anyone who’s ever tried to read a hand-written note from me knows how long it takes to decipher. So I put the package aside to examine later and went out to have a fabulous day of communing with many of my favorite people.

It wasn’t until later that night that I realized how special this time capsule really was.

The letter I wrote to accompany the birthday package of manuscripts was penned just hours before probably the most dramatic, life-changing day of my existence. My words chronicled what I was feeling right before this seismic shift.

The events leading up to the letter began in mid-March of that year. I went to San Francisco to visit my friends and scheduled a few interviews with ad agency creative directors while I was there. The first three interviewers saw my potential, but suggested I get more experience. The fourth one offered me freelance work, but I didn’t have the nerve to move across country without the promise of a steady job.

So I went back to Ohio and found another job that would broaden my work horizons. The day I sent in my acceptance letter (how quaint that sounds now), I got a call from the fourth creative director. He was checking to see if I was still interested in a job in SF and if so, could I possibly fly out to interview with the big boss. Ummm, yes and yes. One tiny sticking point, however, and I went on to explain about my other offer and how I didn’t want to string along this perfectly nice company. We finished our conversation that Friday with his promise to see what could be done to accelerate my hiring.

Early that Sunday evening—apparently just moments before I started writing the letter—my potential boss from the Columbus job called to ask if I would mind if my first week of work consisted of flying to New York City to observe a TV commercial being shot for the company. Ummm, no, I had no problem with that.

So that’s where things stood when I wrote to my friend. I’m guessing that I mailed the package during lunch the next day, which forever preserved the date for me. By that evening, the news the letter contained was already out of date.

When I returned home from the job I was about to leave no matter which suitor I chose, I got a call from San Francisco. My thundering heartbeat made it hard to hear the voice saying that there was no need to fly me out for another interview. Could I just start in two weeks?

There are not enough words in the thesaurus to describe the thrill—and the power—that I felt in that moment. It was an exhilarating rush of “I did it!” joy.

Touching this golden relic of my personal history transports me back to that period of triumph. More importantly, it reminds me of how much I want to create my next “I did it!” moment.

So my deepest thanks to my friend for this incomparable gift. Or should that be unrivaled gift? Unparalleled? Unique? Without equal?

Well, whatever the thesaurus says, it’s treasure to me.


  1. What goes around, comes around, eh? You are the real treasure!

  2. so triumphantly written... I found myself rooting for you every step of recall.