I drove through Matisse-type rain last night, waves of manna from heaven, thanks to Hurricane Isaac, happy and refreshed although it was late, I have a cold, and it was hard at times to see the road. There’s something so freeing and exhilarating about touring with a book 16 years in the writing and so central to my life that every nuance of this book tour is a gift. The rain, of course, is a gift on steroids for our drought land.
Since I’m enthralled by interesting skies, this trip was an especially auspicious time to drive: the bands of the hurricane reached the southeast edge of Wichita Friday morning, and I following them to Emporia, just on the western outskirts of slow-moving rain. All day, I saw vivid and panoramic layers of colors not local to these parts (stranger clouds, stopping in town on their way back across the continent to the ocean).
The readings — Thursday night in Wichita’s Bookmark Bookstore, and Friday
night in Emporia in the heart of ESU’s campus — were also multi-layered and vivid. In Wichita, I stumbled into so many new and ancient connections that I could barely stop laughing. Gathering with Victoria, one of my best friends for 30 years; my/Ken’s cousins Dennis and Joy, who I love dearly; new friends and old acquaintances, there was a lot to talk about. I also met David, who went to P.S. 253 in Brooklyn, close to where I attended P.S. 252, and who is linked by one degree to me multiple directions (Goddard, Brooklyn, my yoga teacher training and the Lawrence Hari Krishna community, literature and more). In Emporia, I got to see some of my favorite poets in Kansas, Kevin and Bill, meet an exquisive group of Kevin’s creative writing students (who asked me some of the best questions I’ve been asked about writing), and eat seriously good Mexican food with much-admired writer Cheryl and her awesomely talented photographer husband Dave. I even bought new sandals at a great price, and as I do whenever I travel, I foraged through various thrift stores for treasure.
Of course, there’s also the reading itself. I get to share out loud words I’ve been crafting in the basement, porch, bedroom, and in over a dozen coffee shops over many years of writing, revision, doubt, despair about the publishing world, joy
at how my characters were making themselves visible, and hope that I would one day get to read this book to audiences.
I tell audiences that yes, writing this book based on my own difficulty childhood was healing, but seriously complemented by years of therapy too. Reading it is a way to give back some of what I was given, and even get good views of the sky, shrimp fajitas and applause in return. What’s not to love?