Short post today because things are heating up here in Newport, Oregon. Time to start moving stuff out of our “temporary” apartment and into the RV. Twelve more days and we’ll be on the road again, after a year and a half of sitting still.
Today is May 1st, 2010. It is the official release date of our book - a date we’ve been anticipating for a very, very long time. At one point, nearly three years ago, we thought our publication date would be in the spring of 2009; when our editor told us it would be a year later, it felt like a tremendous loss and we weren’t sure we knew how to wait patiently. Many of you knew our editor, Terry Cassiday. She has since departed this world and joined that host of angels who are guiding us from afar. When we expressed our dismay at what we perceived as a setback, Terry reminded us that this entire project – the original journey, the race unity work, the stories that became a book – was never our idea to begin with. From its inception, this undertaking has been the result of divine inspiration, divine intervention, divine nudging. She also assured us that the problem of racial prejudice was not going be solved between May 2009 and May 2010, that there would still be a need for our book, and that – like everything else – the timing of its release was being arranged by a wisdom far greater than our own. We often wonder if she had some premonition of what was coming. To say that the timing is perfect is . . . well . . . a bit of an understatement. And she promised that when it happened, it would be wonderful.
Last Thursday evening we did our very first reading as real authors. While we’ve been sharing many of our stories around the country for years, there was something quite different about Thursday. You know how people say about amazing events that it felt like a dream? And how the rest of us think that is so trite? Well let me tell you something – trite or not, it felt like a dream. Like when I’ve just climbed onto a horse and am ready for a gallop, then suddenly I wake up with a rush of disappointment. It wasn’t real; it was only a dream. That’s how I felt Thursday – like I might wake up at any moment and realize that I never actually wrote a book at all; I only imagined it. When we walked into the room at OSU, there were copies of our book, laid out in rows on a table. I heard one young lady say as she walked in, “Oh look! The book is here!” It was surreal. Then we read our stories – not from lined notebook paper with hand-written scribbles, not from computer printouts of unedited electronic files, but from a rectangular, three-dimensional object with pages that are glued together. We gave love to our audience; they gave love back. And when we were done, people paid actual dollars for those copies on the table and then stood in line, waiting for us to sign them! After every signature I looked up and wondered, “Is this going to be the moment when the phone rings, or Gene shifts his position in bed, or a dog barks, and I wake up, look around at the bedroom, and slowly become aware that none of this really happened?”
Apparently I’m still sleeping, because there’s another reading coming up tomorrow and Gene is over at the RV park doing last minute maintenance on our trailer. Things are piled by the front door, ready to be relocated into MUCH SMALLER closets and drawers. Managers of RV parks in Georgia, Texas, and Massachusetts are emailing me confirmations of our reservations. Friends are calling to schedule events in Little Rock, Chicago, and San Diego. I haven’t lost the 40 pounds I had hoped to shed before we set out, but other than that, everything is nearly ready to go. Maybe if I take a brisk, half-hour walk every day between now and May 12th . . .
And Terry Cassiday is looking over my shoulder whispering excitedly in my ear, “I told you so! I told you so!” The dream is unfolding before our eyes. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen at every turn, but we’re okay with that. It is a little bit stressful and a little bit scary. It has been and will continue to be a whole lot of hard work. It is sometimes exhausting, more often exhilarating. And it is wonderful. So very wonderful.