Friday, September 26, 2014

My Love Affair with Ray Bradbury

Photo from Hollowverse.com
We met under a tree on a hot day at the UCLA Book Festival, when I was in my mid-twenties. Ray Bradbury explained he had to get out of the sun. The only place with a shade tree was at the back of the campus, which is how we found each other,  each looking for a cool respite. You'd think he was a diplomatic dignitary the way his two security guards flanked him.

No one knew he was there and for two hours he told me magical stories of his youth and the highlights of his writing career. Do I remember the exact details or words of the conversation? Sadly, not. And worse, I was too na├»ve to understand just how important he was in the world of literature. I know we established that we both felt spiritual and highly intuitive, thinking that our work was channeled to us for a higher purpose. He said that alone, he just couldn’t be that good. After that, I remember nothing but floating on a cloud and feeling enchanted, prepared to propose to the old man.

I asked him what was the most important thing he could tell me that would make me the best writer ever.

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He stared into my eyes with a searing passion as if we were characters in a romance novel. I knew that his message was highly personal, meant just for me. Ray, as he asked me to call him, leaned forward. His eyes burrowed beyond my soul and touched the heart of me. My ears strained––this I would remember. He took a breath and said, “Write.” Angels sung, and I knew that I was on the right life path.
Once the word got out that Ray was available for signatures the line at his table grew in seconds, and it was clear why he had two security guards. I wished he had invited me out to dinner. We bid adieu, and knowing I'd never see him again, tore myself from the table, feeling that I had received all the blessings of the conversation. I reluctantly walked away, unaccompanied by my new love.