Flying South

Written by Hollye Dexter

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite moments of Fall was the sound of geese migrating. In the 1970s, the San Fernando Valley was clouded over with smog every day, (this was before EPA standards), so we were lucky to see so much as a squirrel. I could never see those geese, but I heard them, honking away incessantly as they flew. I imagined that, in goose language, they were giddily chatting about their vacation, and all the things they would do once they reached their destination. I wanted to go with them. They were getting the hell out, and I knew that one day I would, too.

I was really cranky this weekend, and I thought about those geese. Oh lord did I want to jump on a plane and head South, anywhere.

For the past four months my life has been a whirlwind of planning and hosting. If it’s possible for a person to have too much fun, I think that may have happened to me.

Imagine one of those montage scenes in an old movie, where the calendar pages start blowing past:

February – Twenty days to plan and host a wedding for my son, one week to throw a bridal shower. March – brother and family come to visit, parties, Disneyland, beach, Hollywood, T.V. show tapings… April – gigs galore, sequined gowns, disco and torch songs, old friends visiting from out of town. May – Another brother family visit, birthday parties, concerts, Disneyland, beach and Hollywood all over again, my two best friends birthdays, then yesterday – a baby shower for my daughter in law. ..

And its not over… June promises another whirlwind, with the baby about to be born, my daughter’s birthday, and then Aya’s mother coming in from Japan to stay with us for a few weeks. Every one of these events is a blessing that I’m so grateful for.


Yesterday I hit a wall. Hard. I was hosting a baby shower in two hours, but I could hardly push myself through the morning, making tea sandwiches like a zombie on auto pilot, my four-year old running around in his underwear, dust bunnies threatening to overtake the house, and of course, the septic system leaking into the yard, which it always does on special occasions.

It was go-time, but I wasn’t going. Soon my house would be filled with people and fun, but I found myself craving solitude. I wanted to curl up into fetal position and throw the covers over my head. Because through all this fun, fun, fun, go, go, go I am getting up early every morning, writing six hours a day, trying to finish my book. It is a memoir of my childhood, and believe me, it is not an easy one to write. All morning, I’m immersed in some tragic event of 1978, reliving the moment. Then at noon I shut down my laptop and bring my little one home from preschool. He’s bouncing all over the place “Let’s play Candyland Mommy”, but my head is still swirling with the violent events of the past, and at times it feels like I will implode.

The absurd dichotomy between what I’m writing about each day, things like seeing my brother covered in blood after he was shot in the head…and what I’m living now…party, party, party, fun, fun, fun….all of a sudden became too much to handle. You hear people speak of the writer’s life with such romantic notions, but for me, it’s like vomiting. It feels awful, but you gotta do it, and actually you feel a lot better afterward. So I’m “vomiting” every morning, running around party-party-party planning every afternoon, waking in the middle of the night with anxiety, stomachaches, and nosebleeds. Yesterday morning I just shut down. My eyes glazed over, I was stuck on pause.

My best friend Erin walked in, and in her no-bullshit manner said, “What’s up with you? You look like a Stepford Wife whose plug was just pulled.” Then rolled up her sleeves and started working the kitchen.

My husband took one look at me and said Uh-oh, (after twenty-two years, he knows my every facial expression) Give me a list, and I’ll get it done. God I love him. My friends, my kids…everyone started pitching in to make it happen.

Which brings me back to those geese. On their long journeys one takes the front position, the others fall behind in V formation creating an uplift in wind current for the rest. When the lead goose tires, another moves into position. By flying together, they can move 70% faster than on their own. This is how it is with friends. Many times I have taken the front position, but not now. I am being carried. Thank God for them. Thank God.

Maybe what I was pining for, listening to the geese all those years ago, was that feeling of being carried, of being connected to something bigger than myself. Maybe all that honking away wasn’t, and isn’t, idle chatter about a vacation, but constant assuring of one another – I’ve got you, and I will never let you fall.

So once again, my beautiful family and friends filled up the well that had run dry, making me feel human again, filling my day with laughter and gratitude. The baby shower lasted five hours, and even that seemed too short.

Last night, I sat at the dinner table with my husband, my three children, and my daughter-in-law who is carrying my soon to be born grandson. Over dinner we told stories and laughed, oh wow, did we laugh a lot last night. It was just one of those moments of absolute perfection, and as I stopped to soak it all in, I realized – I don’t want to fly South. I am right where I want to be.

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  1. Pam

    You are both gifted and blessed, Hollye. This is beautiful.

  2. Pam

    You are both gifted and blessed, Hollye. This is beautiful.


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