If there’s one thing my kids and I know how to do, it’s throw a party. Even in a bookstore. So last night, a dark and stormy night, we did.
And according to all reports, despite the pouring rain, thunder, and hail an hour before, it was a smash. Sam prepared trays of meat, cheese, crackers, and fruit, that we loaded into Monique’s car along with a giant poster of the cover, a music stand to prop it up on, and boxes of Prosecco and soft drinks, glasses and napkins (all of which, incidentally, I paid for.) I had seven thick-nibbed signing pens and my speech notes and was dressed entirely in Goodwill, a silk jacket, a vintage top, a MiuMiu skirt. Monique insisted I wear a skirt. “Show those legs!” she said.
We set up and waited in the empty bookstore with Ben McNally and Danielle, his lovely daughter; people began to trickle in and then came the avalanche, eventually about fifty people or more from all avenues of my life: family, neighbours, students from recently and from long ago, old friends, Y friends, writer friends, even friends of friends. Sam and Diana greeted; Monique kept filling the glasses which made sure the conviviality did not flag. Holly had to dash out to buy more glasses at one point, but we did not run out of food or drink, though nearly. I signed, with student and friend Sam nearby to help me. And then I gave a talk, starting by telling them about the Japanese movie After Life, in which the recently deceased are asked to choose a favourite moment from their lives; that would be the moment they’d live in for eternity.
“If I’m hit by a bus on the way home,” I said, “I will choose this moment: in this lovely warm room with many of my most favourite people, with wine and cheese and surrounded by books. We could spend eternity just reading what’s in this room.”
I didn’t cry but I could have, looking out at the crowd — at my kids and grandsons, who’d made me a card, “Congratulations Glamma” with a picture of people holding a book; two Rons, one known since childhood in Halifax, the other a new 90-year-old writer friend; the group from the Y, women I hardly know but like so much; students from two decades ago. A surprise visit from Isabel Huggan who was unexpectedly in town, with her cousin Ken who’s the dearest … Many blessings.
I thought, the people in this room are the nicest people in the world. So much chatter, people meeting, talking, laughing.
Midlife Solo caused a great deal of trouble being born, but it’s here and looking good, and I’m proud of it. I quoted Wayson: You don’t have to read the book, just buy it! Ben was pleased; we sold 44 books, and I urged people to buy other books from him besides mine.
Today it’s like I’ve indeed been hit by a bus, except that I’m still alive. Tomorrow life will begin again but today, I’m in a daze. What matters is that people are emailing that they’ve started to read and are enjoying what they’re reading. May that continue.
May that continue.
And what’s crazy is that when this all dies down, when I’ve done what I can for this book, it will be time to start on the next one. And this tortuous, thrilling, absurd cycle will begin all over again.
So, my friends, only one word to say: Onward.
Oh – and before bed, I did the Wordle puzzle for the first time in months, and got it in two! What a day.
With Diana, who’s in my home class chronicling her extraordinary journey of transition, and with Christopher Moore, historian and writer, both of whom gave glowing blurbs that are in the book.
Thanks to everyone who helped make it all possible.