I waited in line, knots in my stomach and a smile you could see from miles away. The time was exciting and the room was buzzing with the kind of energy that could easily warm the coldest person on the planet. We were all about to meet Neil Gaiman and there was no denying it – we were elated. In our little world, we felt like we were meeting the legend that could never be touched, the man we thought only existed in our minds, the creator of the world of dreams. It was the time we would all refer to later on as the best moment of our lives.
Except, that is all a lie. Everyone would be able to say it was the best moment of their lives . . . Everyone else but me.
As the line got smaller and smaller and the distance to the table where our icon sat got shorter and shorter, something happened to me. I simply got scared. My mind was already a jumbled mess and I started to feel unworthy of meeting such an accomplished man. I started thinking “what have I done in this world to make me worthy of meeting him” and “what if he sees me and knows I am nothing?” I know – it’s stupid, but that is how my mind works. It is a cruel thing, the ability to think because as easy as it is to think of good things, it is twice as easy to think of the worst.
So, I did what any scared person would do – I got out of line. I stupidly got of line and watched from the side while everyone else had their books signed and shook hands with Neil. My friend Kristin (with a K, no e’s. That is what she told Neil when he signed her book and would you believe he got it right? Our mind was blown! No one ever gets this right, no matter how many times she tells people.), who was still giddy from the fact that she was just face to face with her favorite storyteller of all time, asked if I was ok. I said yeah and looked towards the table. In my heart, I knew I was lying, but something else happened that made me realize getting out of that line was probably the best thing I did.
As I stood there, watching from a distance and observing the scene, I saw something that I felt was remarkable and probably something I will never again see in my lifetime. In my mind, I was amazed at the man we know as Neil, the man in black. He was probably exhausted after being on a bus for a good part of the day, hungry, sleepy and missing his wife, but here he was, happily signing books and talking to people as if they had been friends who were separated by time and were meeting up for the first time in many years. He was friendly! Who would have thought that this kind of thing existed? I mean, this man has written books that have shaped many lives and has been the reason why people continue to dream and explore their imagination. This man has had books made into movies and he was here, meeting people, and these people will get to carry this memory around with them in their hearts, no matter how fleeting the time was.
It was then that it hit me – sometimes, it’s not a signature in a book that matters. It’s the experience you take away from it. The memory is what becomes the precious thing you hold onto, not the material aspect of the moment. Yes, a signature in a book is great, but being able to say “I went to the Unchained Tour and it was the best thing I ever went to” is what is important. It is not often you get to experience storytelling the way we all did last night. It is an art form that is slowly dying and the members and participants of the Unchained tour are the crusaders who are doing all they can to keep it alive. Every moment of that show was priceless – the music, the stories, the people and most importantly, the laughter. The best way to describe the feeling from last night is we were all a big family, coming together to have a good time while listening to some of our family members tell great stories and listen to great music. If you are from a big family (like I am), you know that feeling you get when you and your family all come together for the holidays, after not seeing each other for years? Yeah – that is the exact feeling I am talking about.
So, last night was not just about Neil Gaiman and getting his autograph in a book. It was about coming to a place where you could let go all the worries in life – let go of all the unpleasant things that make life stressful – and simply learn how to just be in the moment. That is what I will have with me always and no one can ever take that away from me. It was a magical night that could have easily put a smile on the moon.
Thank you to EVERYONE who was a part of the Unchained tour – your stories and music will be with me always.
As for pictures – let’s just say I was too busy being in the moment (and Peter was not having any of that . . . and I will always be grateful for it). I did get a picture of the bus . . .
I had to get a picture of something from the event :-)
My Favorite Parts of The Show:
- Dawn Fraser – Hearing her story about being a Trini-yankee and trying to find her way home was one story I could really relate to (I am an African American woman from the South who loves to read, write, and watch Doctor Who, along with many other things most people do not do. I’m kind of a rare thing around here). Not knowing where you fit in is a hard thing to deal with in life, and finding humor in it is sometimes the best way to get through it. She is one I truly regret not talking to.
- Edgar Oliver – “Into the Daaarkness.” I absolutely loved his voice. I could sit there and talk to him for hours. His story of being lost and found was great and the part of feeling loved is something we all tend to miss sometimes in our lives. The blue moon helped him figure that out (that and leaving his bag after trying to write about the blue moon. Wine can do that to you).
- George Dawes Green – the reason why we have the Unchained Tour. We all owe this man for giving us something so extraordinary as this tour. His “sermon” on why we should cherish our local bookstores is what we all needed to hear. I do not think we all realize how important it is to support the mom and pop stores, because to be honest, we are losing them all to the big corporate stores that keep popping up all over the place. I made the promise last night to shop local from now on and I plan to keep that promise.
- Peter Aguero – Host of the show and one of the reasons the show is so awesome. His way of storytelling is just right on point and you are wrapped into each word because you just cannot get enough. The part of his story when he introduced his wife . . . yeah, I tried my best not to cry because it was just that damn good.
- Neil Gaiman – “And I laid down in my bed, and I looked up at the ceiling. Then I said, “Fuck. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck. It was then that I became a writer. Because it was then I realized that words had power.” Just amazing – he truly has a gift of hitting you right in the heart.
- Joel T. Hamilton and Rachel Kate – You can’t have a great show without great music! All of my friends know I am definitely very diverse when it comes to music and what I heard last night was the type of music that just resonates in your soul. Loved it and am currently trying to find where I can buy their music (not having any luck at the moment.) Either way – they have a new fan in this girl.
- Also, a shout out to Peter for saving Rachel Kate from Zane. That was hilarious . . . and you had to have been there to know how funny it was.