Last week I wrote a lengthy post about what it was like to go on a book tour, the highlights, the memorable moments from each event and city. I worked on it here and there for a few days, and as soon as I was finished writing it, I knew I didn't want to post it. It was for *me,* for the sake of remembering, and it wound up feeling very personal. I haven't kept a diary in a long time, and there's something about archiving your time--the banalities of it along with the surprises--that can, upon rereading, feel incredibly vulnerable. I don't mind feeling vulnerable but I like to decide when to feel vulnerable, which is, if we're honest, the cheat's way of being vulnerable, because half of vulnerability is being caught off-guard, having not given permission. Maybe I don't like feeling vulnerable. My good friend Jennie suggested that one day I might print off the book tour post and tuck it into a copy of Motherest and leave it somewhere for the kids to find, and I love that idea, but in all likelihood it will probably just get lost in the jungle of files on my hard drive. Maybe if I live to ninety I'll find it and feel like that old lady on the Titanic, who the eff knows.
I guess most of my Book Tour Feelings could be crystallized thusly: it was hard, and good, and beautiful, and fulfilling, and exhausting, and moving, and frequently hilarious. And thusly: I still can't believe people are reading my book. In Philadelphia a 20-something woman told me how much she related to the mother-daughter dynamic; the next day, in the suburbs, a 60-ish woman told me the same thing. That was a highlight. In my past life, in academia, I sneered at relatability as the marker of a good book: that's what you do in academia, you sneer a lot. These days I'm keenly interested in anything that can bring people together, make them feel less alone, help them articulate their feelings, their sorrows; give them a new way to think about an old thing. We need to relate to one another, to texts, to possibilities. We shouldn't stop trying to relate, even when we can't or don't want to. And obviously we should read the books we don't relate to, because we should read all the books all the time, and because being on the outside of something is always an opportunity: a challenge to find a new way in, one that doesn't rely on our similarities but invites us to build bridges between our differences. Growth is exciting, and I know I'm still growing, and I hope I never stop. I want to be so open that my insides fall out, right onto the floor.
Right now I'm on the couch looking at our Christmas tree, and Brian is on the other end of the couch, also blogging. I'll give you a minute to recover from that adorableness. I want to say that without Brian there would have been no book tour. He held it all down so lovingly. When I wavered about some invitation to be somewhere, he encouraged me to go. Get out there, he'd say, just do it. So my gratitude in many ways really starts and ends with him, here at home. I'm really glad to be back.