My new novel Rift Jump has been available for a few weeks now, from Splashdown Darkwater!
Back in December '11 when I first announced the book, I said that there was a more personal story behind Rift Jump's creation.
Well, now that story is about to be told. It's my real life love story.
A lot of the story has already been told in the Appendix of Rift Jump, but there's even more to it. Something very personal to me, that I don't share with just anyone--and yet I'm about to blog about it for the whole world to see, because I think it's a story that needs to be told, especially in light of Rift Jump's publication.
What you'll discover in the Appendix is that Rift Jump began with a dream.
From Appendix A: "In tenth grade I had the most vivid dream where I was transported to an elaborate 'mall world' and met a girl named Sara. She was small and timid and had long straight orange-colored hair that was parted down the middle with the bangs tucked behind her cute little ears. And she had the most endearing eyes. They were full of magic and love and in her arms I felt like I finally belonged.
To an awkward teenager who felt ugly and out of place in the world, that meant everything.
In this dream, I saved this beautiful mall princess from an ugly, mean brute. I fought valiantly and was nearly invincible in my love for this girl and when I rescued her from her tower and finally held her in my arms, I’ll never forget what she said to me:
I love you.
At that time in my life, I had never heard that from a girl before. Maybe that’s why that girl in the dream was always so special to me.The dream stayed with me, and it so moved me that I wrote it down the next day, scene for scene from beginning to end, just as it came to me in my sleep. I turned it in for a grade in my Creative Writing class, thus the first 'Rift Jump' story was told."
Now, what the Appendix glosses over is that I fell absolutely in love with "Sara" from that moment on. She became my codeword for my ideal woman. I was convinced that God had shown her to me in my dream as a way of saying "This is who you will marry". And I held on to that for many years.
When I thought of what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was usually "married". That's what I wanted, more than anything. True love. A constant companion. A wonderful friend. My parents married when they were in high school, and when I was little, I was convinced I would do the same. Well, that didn't happen. High school came and went and I was distraught, thinking (naively) that I would never find "my Sara". I agonized over her, I cried over her, I missed her--even though I'd never known her. I begged God that I would find her soon, I prayed for her that, wherever she was and whatever she was doing, she would be safe and know that I was out there in the world and I loved her. In any relationship I entered (and it was only a couple), in the back of my mind, I was always mentally asking "Is this her? Is this Sara?"
Looking back, I'm ashamed to say that I was obsessed with finding her. Every waking moment became about finding Sara, about becoming whole. Every story I wrote was about Sara, about being with her, finding her--saving her. As I got a little ways into my twenties, I had a wake-up call. I realized I was wasting my life waiting for it to begin. I was in a deep pit and realized that I had to move on from this fantasy of Sara. It finally occured to me that Sara had become an idol to me. I wasn't ready for her, because I wasn't right with myself.
So, I abandoned the quest. I gave up on Sara. I focused on my own life, on my friends, my writing (The Coming Evil, yo!)--and most importantly, God. My faith grew by leaps and bounds during that time and I had finally become secure with myself. I didn't need a wife to "complete" me; I was already complete.
Then, lo... As an obligation, I begrudgingly took a good friend to a play audition, and I met Meghan. She was really cute and smart and "together". Also, I had it on good authority that she already thought I was a major hottie, so--with my lowish self-esteem and all--I thought "I can't lose!" Throwing caution to the wind, I asked her out. We had zero in common. And I mean ZERO. We barely related to each other at all that first date, but I still felt comfortable around her. We went out on a couple more dates, and before I knew it, we were madly in love. I'm still not sure how that happened :p
Today is our ten year wedding anniversary :) We have two beautiful daughters, a great life, and she still thinks I'm a major hottie.
What's funny is that, it doesn't come as a surprise to me to tell you that Meghan is my wife's middle name.
Her first name is Sarah.
Dreams do come true, but usually when you least expect it. And I fully believe that it was a "God thing". That He gave me the desire of my heart, but in His timing, not my own. And the fact that Meghan's name was actually "Sarah" (albeit with an "h" I'd not accounted for), made me feel as though God was giving me a wink. If I ever had any doubt that God was real before, that was obliterated now. I can't even fully describe it, but it was at that moment that I knew--not just believed--that God was absolutely real, and I could trust Him with my life, my soul, my hopes, and my dreams.
Sara--both the fictional one, and the real one--have had a huge impact on my life that can't be overstated. When it came time to write Rift Jump "for real", I had already been happily married for many years, and was able to let my character Sara exist on her own terms without having to be my ideal woman. For the first time since she'd appeared to me in my dreams, the character of Sara Theresea was able to be her own person, to have her own thoughts, her own voice. In a way, I liken it to breaking up a long time romance, and both parties growing from the experience. Seeing Sara now in the pages of Rift Jump is like passing an old girlfriend on the street, seeing her with her husband or playing with her kids. She's got a whole other life without me--as I have a whole other life without her--but I can always look back on our long and storied history together with fondness.
To the real Sarah--my Meghan--you are the love of my life. The answer to my prayers. The girl of my dreams. Happy anniversary :)