This is what a person should do, and have, at a reading: bring a bottle of water, and maybe some aspirin, and a box of kleenex. Remember to introduce yourself, then speak clearly and loudly. Read slowly. Don’t cry. When people ask questions, repeat them, loudly, before you answer them. Have business cards ready, with the correct spelling of your name and your email address and maybe your website address, too. Start on time, and finish on time.
But I didn’t do any of those things.
I forgot the water, I had a headache. I didn’t have a kleenex. I forgot to introduce myself, and I spoke quietly. I have no business cards in my purse (though I have a matchbox fire truck and a bag of animal crackers.) The reading started a half-hour or so late; it ended much later.
This is what happened: Kelly, the store’s Community Relations Manager, supplied the glass of water. She also introduced me, and though we started late, no one seemed to mind. When I spoke too softly, someone gently asked me to be louder. In the middle part, when I write about love, a tear escaped from my eyelid, trailing down my nose, followed by another. A box of kleenex appeared.
During the question-and-answer period, when my mind was a blank, Mary remembered to ask me about the photos in Gifts, so I could speak about them. MaryAnn remembered to bring up the Buddy Walk in September, so then I could talk about community. And Cyndi asked about my book, so I remembered I was writing one, and I talked about that, too.
The essay I read from Gifts has a part about hands lifting me up, when I couldn’t find my own way. It felt the same, today. Hands lifted me up. The afternoon was a gift–but it isn’t clear who was giving, and who was receiving.
I think everyone was doing both.
I had Avery’s smiley-face figure with me, I was wearing Amy’s beautiful DS awareness bracelet, and I had a pocketful of good wishes from all of you. I felt them, and they were another gift of the day.