I came home finally, sitting now in the empty living room, a black futon next to a banker's lamp, finally with a chance to leaf through a copy of the book,* marvelling that any of this had ever happened at all, and so recently.
Only hours previous was the show. You were there. Can I let myself believe it actually happened, that friendly whirlwind? A couple hundred souls at least, in the room of the building on the block to be, fusillading their good cheer from before the show's official start until long after it was over. People telling me this is where all the noise is, the place everyone's talking about. I could hardly believe it. I flashed to my younger self, watching Antonioni's 1961 La Notte, the early scene where Marcello Mastroianni has a book signing and everybody's there, it's crowded. Thinking that looks interesting, I wonder what it would feel like, would it feel nice, or empty, or stressful or what. Thinking, well, I'll never know.
Tonight's event was the expression of joy it was because of you, who support the blog and the book and its ideas in life. It was real because you made it so, by caring, and the joyous, heady, lovingly enveloping tornado I felt myself in the thrall of is the greatest gift I can hope to receive from a crowd.
There were a lot of Stephens there; I was telling one how pleasantly surprised I am that the gritty optimism of the blog has resonance for such a wide group of people. I started the blog (first story ever here) with absolutely no thought toward it gaining any popularity. The attitude is too unusual, the incident too humble. This'll just be for myself and my friends... Only to discover that you friends are everywhere, and even though Seattle had a disproportionate amount of goings-on that particular night, this crowd mobilized and made the time, took the effort toward this room in Georgetown, which is nowhere near anything. I rode the bus down (you kind of have to ride the bus to your own bus driver blog book event), and to meet others onboard who were heading to dinner and then...
I couldn't be more humbled.
There were people there whom I hold in such high estimation I could hardly believe they would come, but they did. My 선생님, the Color Crew, the operators, the filmmakers, other authors, and friends from long ago; people with whom I shared the confusion of childhood, or the intrepid ventures of art school. I stood overwhelmed, and were it not for the speed of the room I would have been at a loss for words with gratitude.
I didn't get to talk to everyone, but I saw everything, believe me, and there were so many glancing faces in the periphery I registered and desperately wanted to greet... But the melee. You understand. What can I say but say now:
Hello, you. Thank you for coming. If you picked up a book, thank you so much for your support and interest. Send me an email if you like. Didn't make it out? No worries! The book will be available for purchase online shortly. Stand by for details. If you would like a copy immediately, email me directly.
In the compressed hotbed of cacophonic joy that my events often are, where my time spent with each person is unfortunately measured in seconds rather than hours, each brief interaction is massive to me. I know how busy these things are. The crowd, the lines for autographs.
Can I thank you enough? Is it possible? It isn't possible. For not only being there, but taking the extra effort to wait, to find me and chat, even if only for a moment. To me, it means the world, your generosity. Sharing your inspiration and enthusiasm, making the room the wellspring of kindness it was- that's as much you as me. To be told afterward it felt like a safe space, a welcoming and friendly space, despite the numbers and noise... Words are insufficient. (And thank you for the technical photographer questions- a favorite part of mine at things like this, finding another language in common, diving into nitty gritty film stock tech talk!)
I close my eyes now to sleep, just another Seattle soul in an apartment like anyone else's, but it is all still there, the whirlwind, the sounds and sensation of hands shook and moving from one person to another. The intensity of the room, its blazing energy. It is all so surreal to me. Maybe all that was the dream, and as I fall asleep I'll return to waking life.
See you there.
*I compare the event to a wedding in an earlier post, and in one way it really was like one: due to scheduling I didn't get to see the published book until that night, and didn't get a moment alone with it until after the show had ended!