I get lost. A lot. Did you know the guards at the Polish border will move their barricades to allow a driver searching for the Czech Republic to turn her car around? I know. Ask me how. Also a Kansas City map will do you no good while searching for a St Louis address. Again, I might be able to elaborate. And if you miss your turn just east of Apalachicola, your new route will be lined with deep green pines to your left and the bluest of blue bays just off the pavement to your right. Unseen life forms, skimming just below the water’s surface, will leave ripples spreading out behind them and behind you as you speed along to a destination totally unknown and unplanned. That, too, is an experience I could share along with a cold bottle of Chardonnay. I might even buy.
You’re probably expecting me to insert the obvious truism here: that the life we plan is never really the life we lead; that we find our perfect life hidden down some random alley instead of the MapQuest route. Except that hasn’t been my experience. I went to college to learn how to write and came out with the bare necessities learned. I worked in the same building for two decades, selling radio ads and hiring and training reps to do the same, and finally left to do what I’d wanted to do since college: start my own advertising agency. My career path has been more wobbly than sharply veering. As for my personal life, I desperately wanted a child after my husband and I had been married a few years and so we had one, and she was beautiful and is beautiful, and now I’m an embarrassingly doting grandmother, also absolutely to plan. Maybe it’s not life we find on the detours, not the solid substance of life. Maybe it’s the spark we find, the shooting star in the milky dark or the firefly in the night.
So for those who came to this page expecting the facts about me, here they are: I’m a middle-aged, Midwest advertising/writing type with a husband and two dogs at home and a houseful of kids (grown and small) a few hours away. My name is Karen Campbell. I make mistakes, I get lost, and somehow I find my way back with a few scrapes and bumps earned along the way. No worries, because sometimes, when I’m very, very lucky, I also make it home with a whole jarful of lovely sparks. Zen under glass. Bring it on.