Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Used Book Stores and Other Tales.

This past Sunday I went to the reading at the local used bookstore and it was everything I thought it could be.

It was not what I necessarily expected.

I had only been to one other reading by an author:  Robert Pinskey, who was the poet laureate of the United States at the time, read several of his poems from The Figured Wheel at the college I attended for my undergraduate work.  He read to a packed room filled with eager beaver college students.  He had a rich, thick voice and poetry flowed out from inside him and lathered his mouth and tongue and spilled out onto us like syrup and butter.  I could have listened to Robert Pinskey read poetry for a lifetime and not found myself bored.

When the Pinskey's reading was over, he exited the building.  We went back to our grind - to class, to apartments - and that was all.

This reading was so much different, and a truly beautiful experience.

I arrived early - before the author - and Joe, the owner of the bookstore, was there with his wife.  They were scuttling around the store, preparing.  He offered me a glass of wine, which I declined, I don't really like the taste of alcohol, and then a cup of coffee, which I greedily accepted and doused with vanilla creamer and stirred with a dirty silver spoon and drank with relish. 

The store was cramped, but genial - I have always loved it.  Books.  Books everywhere and papers with quotes spattered across them - literature and text at every glance, at every turn, at every fingertip at every moment inside the store.  I love how it smells.  How it looks.  I could browse for hours. 

I have been wanting to talk with Joe about acting class options - he's been instrumental in establishing a building with art studios for local artists to rent that will also hold artistic classes, acting being one, and he's asked if I might be interested in teaching there - and I am - but this did not seem the time to talk my business.  This day was about Susan and her book. 

Joe and his wife set out cheese and crackers on a tray.  Set up a small table with Susan's name. 

I lingered in the shelves and thought about Susan.  Trish and Susan.

Trish is the playwright who wrote Butterfly.  Those of you who have been reading here for any length of time have most likely heard about this play.  I had the pleasure of playing the role of David, a transgendered man who is killed by his intolerant mother. 

As the bells tinkled at the door, they walked in together.  It was good to see them both.  I got to talk to Trish a bit about writing and theatre and life while Susan prepped for her reading - mingled with her guests.

The atmosphere was warm and lovely.  I met several people I hadn't met before.  Everyone was there for the same purpose - to hear this reading.  It didn't matter that we didn't know each other - we wanted to support this writer who happened to live in our community and the business of it was something that felt terribly GOOD and RIGHT.

There were not enough chairs for everyone to sit, so when Susan finally got around to actually reading her essay from the book we all tried to find good places to stand.  My friends Kayleigh and Rachel were there by that time.  We tried to stand close to Susan, but behind her, hoping we could see best from that angle but Susan encouraged us to stand in front of her "please", and so we did. 

The reading itself was energizing.  Emotive.  Exciting.  I loved the energy in the room.  Each breath from each body was supportive and caring and everyone was interested in the writing - the art of the writing. 

I was reinvigorated in my own style - in my own words.  I wanted to get back to the pen as soon as I could - to start something great.  Someday.  When my children are older, I might find more than fifteen minutes in a row of uninterrupted time... 

Susan signed my book.  A reporter took our picture for the paper, asked for my name. 

I wanted to stay there, in that room, with those people and in that place for as long as possible. 

It was like oxygen to one who has been depleted...  who has been starved for it.

I couldn't sleep Sunday night.  My mind was racing.  I was so energized.

After the reading my friends and I went to The Refinery for the stars service.

I ended up singing with the band because it would have only been my husband and one other soul if I had not.  Two of us who had come from the reading sang. 

And we got our stars.

I reached into the basket with heart pounding anticipation. 

I clutched the star close to my chest and turned it over to read the front:  LOVE.  Again.  For the second year in a row, I had pulled LOVE. 

My heart leapt.  Warmth spread over my body.  LOVE.

I saw my husband, who was in the sound booth as we all milled about, telling one another about our stars.

"What did you get?"  I asked him.

He showed me the front of his star.

He had LOVE too.

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