I want to write down what happened today and I want to be very clear about some things:
I did not pursue this… It just came to us. It just happened. And you know, actually, nothing has happened yet. I’m not proud of myself, though I am (understandably) excited by the possibility of what this could mean for our town.
A few months ago, a girl named Lindsey started following my instagram account. I saw her photos. I liked them. I saw that she posted lots of pictures of NYC, where she lives, and I followed her back. I soon learned that she was the director of original programming at a major TV network… And then she emailed me one day. I think it was actually this day. It was hard not to tell you about it then, her kind words in that email, her interest in filming us for a possible show. For what? When? Why? We didn’t have any idea. We made plans to meet in NYC this December. She became our friend. She told a literary agent about us. Since then, there have been many Skype interviews with a wonderful production team in Canada who made a 2 minute video introducing us that would be shown to the network to gauge their interest.
Today, Lindsey pitched us, the Napiers here in tee-tiny little Laurel, Mississippi, to a major TV network. And, much to our surprise, they said… “Yes.” And so we’re going on to the next step. What will it be about? I know very little about what they have in mind other than the renewal happening in downtown Laurel and renovating old houses. I feel ill-equipped and inexperienced, but passionate enough to hopefully make up for it and surrounded by talented and kind people who know much more than we do, who can help us along the way.
This does not mean they are making a TV show about Laurel or about us. It means, it’s possible. And in a few weeks a crew will be here filming a short promo to be presented to the network, and if they like it, then we go to the next step of filming an episode. There’s a 2% chance the stars will align and a show will be ordered, so don’t let the rumor mill go too crazy, Laurel. At any rate, we have to give it our best and rise to the occasion. This is what’s on my mind:
1. This is an opportunity to make me smaller and God bigger. He’s responsible for every good opportunity, and He teaches us in every disappointment. If it works out, I hope we’ll honor Him and people will see that any happiness or goodness in our life is a direct result of knowing Him. If it doesn’t happen, I won’t be crushed. That disappointment will be just as much of a gift. It will have been a gift of experience, a chance to meet new people and learn something new. It’s like they called and asked us if we’d like a unicorn a few months ago. Today they asked us what color we’d like its mane to be. It makes no sense. It isn’t real. These things don’t happen to regular people like me and Ben. And if it does? Well. I guess I’ll be ate for a tater.
2. Positive national attention on Mississippi, and more particularly our beloved town? If I can help be part of that, sign me up.
3. If you live here, please. Rally for this town. If ever you were called on to be a cheerleader, it’s now, for just such a time as this. Share things you love about it on social media and hashtag it #iliveinlaurel. Shop here instead of driving 30 minutes to get it. Invite friends and family from out of town to enjoy it. It will be like a really fun virus that everyone starts catching if we all pull together.
I know that there is probably someone reading these words who knows me personally, who lives in my neighoborhood maybe, who has decided not to like me for whatever reason, for things they perceive me to be. Maybe you read here because you’re hoping one of these days I will write about The Big Failure. Don’t worry—I write this blog because I, too, am constantly waiting for the piano to fall on my head. I have to write to realize that life is not so scary… It’s a gift. It helps me to not be so worried and afraid of what the next day holds to focus on the best things about the ones I’ve finished. Maybe you read because my good days are fuel to make you like me less, makes me an easy target. But you need to know how sad and stupid and small it makes me feel once in a while when I hear what those people say about me. It hurts. I’m very flawed. I’m a sinner. Everybody is.
And so, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like us all to be on the same team. I didn’t tell you about all this to be boastful, but to let y’all know: I’m as shocked by this as anyone. Dumb luck and instagram put us in the right place at the right time. We probably don’t deserve this kind of attention. But our town really does. And if you live here, I think you have to do whatever you can to make it great.
There’s a 2% chance the whole world could fall in love with Mississippi. And that’s a good enough reason to try our best, isn’t it?
Illustration by Margaret Kimball