“Because I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep…”
This excerpt from a Robert Frost poem, a favorite of mine from long ago, is the central theme of the novel “Miles to Go.”
The story spans more than thirty years and highlights a friendship connection between two women who meet in college, protest the radical causes of the sixties and seventies, and discover that the journey to adulthood is riddled with many obstacles – ruts in the road, if you will – that prevent the realization of some of their early goals.
They learn, in the process of growing up, that despite the promises of their youth – even their most fervent vows – that the journey can be tangled indeed. But the most vital realization is that friendship can sustain you, even when you stumble or even fall.
I first began this novel when I endured a painful and unexpected loss in the early eighties. Writing in longhand, on long yellow legal pads, I wrote endlessly, without any particular goal or plot. I was simply seeking catharsis.
Then I set it aside and got on with other things.
I rediscovered it in a drawer near the beginning of the Millennium, when I was at a point of reexamining many issues, including what constituted my future. I was approaching retirement from a social worker career and wanted to explore new options – an old love, in fact.
Writing this novel became an obsession, and having set up my computer in an upstairs bedroom, I began.
Lindsay Malone and Gia Greenbaum became the two college friends, who maintained their friendship connection from the sixties and beyond – for more than thirty years. I explored with them their relationships, their parenting issues, and their career choices…and journeyed with them along the paths that often veered completely away from their college aspirations.
Lindsay battles the angst of personal loss – the mysterious death of her brother, while in his prime – and the demise of her youthful marriage. She struggles with chemical dependency, even as her clients in her social work practice do the same. The irony does not escape her. Many relationships follow, but not until she has become independent and on her own for a few years does she finally find the companionship of an interdependent partner.
Gia’s quest is more political, and after spending time as a lobbyist for radical causes, she attends law school…then she takes up the pursuit of environmental issues, along with others near and dear to her heart. She, too, finds that relationships elude her…after her divorce, she dabbles with single life until finally she finds the perfect mate for her.
It is no coincidence that many exploits of the primary characters are closely drawn to my own experiences. However, I must add that the characters and their adventures are embellished – completely fictionalized – so that this novel is truly fiction. Though not a memoir, it does resemble one at times.
Because I struggled with this one more than the others, I put it aside again and published three other novels before finally bringing this one to life.
Indeed – I did have “miles to go” before it saw the light of day.