As most of you know, this past weekend I was in Chicago for a book signing. I knew when I put it in the calendar that it wasn't going to be your run of the mill signing at a store with muzak softly piped in overhead. No, this was booked right off the bat as a private event, meant only for those who were supporters of creativity, who rejoice in individuality, who think outside the proverbial box.
Food was prepared, tents were set up, and a massive sound system put in place. Even the preparations held an air of excitement and fun, and I started to become anxious. While I had been introduced a while back to some of the guests, I by no means knew them all, and the list was full of businessmen and professionals from just about every field, all of whom were known for the intelligence and wit.
People started rolling in a little before five, and I was intimidated at first. I'm usually the shy type, and my idea of a wild time is watching two TV shows back to back. But as the line grew and I opened the first few front covers, I had to smile. Most of these books weren't fresh from a box or a shelf. No, they had bindings that were broken; they were well loved. Everyone who came to the table was open and friendly, some eager to discuss their favorite character or scene. Their enthusiasm washed away my anxiety, and it wasn't long until a lively discussion of the second book ensued. Dusk cooled the air; tables of all shapes and sizes decorated the green space. As I looked over the crowd, I realized that I'd forgotten what it was like to cut loose, to laugh and meet new people.
It wasn't until well past midnight that the crowd thinned. As I said goodbye, hugs were all around, promises of "we have to do this again" filled the air.
Very few moments are etched in my memory, but as I watched my new friends walk to their cars it occurred to me that this event went deeper than selling books or getting an autograph from an author. This was a celebration of creativity, of expression, and I will cherish the memory forever.