Claire Kirch introducing me at Fitger's in Duluth
Have you ever fallen out of touch with someone after years of a brisk correspondence? The longer you wait to write again, the harder it is--there's more to say, and so the planned letter becomes more and more daunting. Instead of telling one or two tightly focused stories, wittily and in an entertaining way, you're faced with mountains of catch-up, a summary of weeks or months or years of your life. And those aren't as fun to write, and they're not as fun to read.
And so I am faced with that dilemma here. Do I write an update about Boscoe's health? (Upped his insulin, and now he's frisky again, though the torn ACL limits his walks.) Do I write about my Duluth appearance, which was sort of old-home week? My Mounds View appearance, which was attended by about 30 people, many of whom were little old ladies bearing Tupperware containers of homemade cookies? Or should I tell you about walking over to the Press yesterday on my lunch hour, where I was tasked with autographing 150 books?
Or maybe I should just wax poetic about the glories of autumn?
Clearly my life is getting out of control. I am behind on the blog, behind on Facebook Scrabble, and way behind at work.
I am also losing my voice. It might be the beginnings of a cold, or it might be that I'm just blabbing way too much.
OK, I'll tell you a little about Duluth, since it was so lovely. I drove up on Thursday, under heavy gray clouds. As I crested the hill for the glide into town, the clouds parted, the sky turned blue, the sun emerged, brilliant, and the calm lake below glittered like a million diamonds.
The after party at the Myers' abode
I stashed my gear at my friends' house and then took off for Fitger's and dinner with my friend Ellen, whom I hadn't seen in a couple of years. Yak yak yak. We talked nonstop. She had a margarita, but she wasn't the one giving a speech in an hour; I had iced tea.
The auditorium where I gave my little talk was only about half full, but it holds 150 people, which would have been outrageous. Only, I think, Stephen King could fill a space like that. I did pretty well with probably 70 people. Many of the people were old, old friends, or schoolmates, or colleagues from the Duluth paper. One guy I hadn't seen since, I swear, third grade, brought along the class photograph from Endion Elementary School. He looked exactly the same, only taller, and he could name every single child pictured.
Three of the Millerites drove up from the Cities to be there. An old friend from Chicago drove up. The aforementioned Ellen drove over from Wisconsin's South Shore.
My old editor was there, and our friends John and Ann brought their older daughter, and Duluth's most famous cartoonist was there, and some of my dad's friends showed up, and a dear friend from high school brought her delightful and now-elderly parents, and Rick and Marian were there from Kenspeckle Letterpress, and oh my goodness.
Duluth friends, Millerites, and all
Claire Kirch, who had interviewed me for Publishers Weekly, introduced me, and then I read a little from the book. It was very chilly in the auditorium, and I was shivering--maybe partly from nervousness, who knows? It's hard to perform in front of your home town.
After the talk and reading we retired to what will forevermore be known as the Meatball Room--the adjacent room, where there was a table set up for book signing, and another table with lots of food (meatballs, and fresh fruit, and bruschetta) and a cash bar. And people stayed and stayed! It was great. We sold nearly 40 books.
Afterwards, around 10 or so, a small group of us retired to our friends' house, where John and Ann had built a fire and lit candles and set out homemade truffles and pita chips and hummus and dip and beer and we popped open two bottles of champagne, and it was well close to 1 a.m. when I finally fell into bed.
The warmth of people, the kindness, their generous excitement about my book, is all pretty humbling and overwhelming.
And of course I have more to tell you--about getting up at the crack of 5:15 a.m. and driving through drizzle and fog to be on live TV the next morning (and how that didn't work out), and about being one of the guests of honor at a book club that night (they read my other book, "They Took My Father," and my brain had to switch gears to Soviet Russia), and about going to Fall Fest in Chester Bowl on Saturday morning and running into half of Duluth....
But the best catch-up doesn't go on and on, but leaves more for the next time. And so I will, for you.