I ended up sick, but it was worth it.
Six or seven times a year Inprint brings authors to Houston. Big authors. Salman Rushdie. Jeffrey Eugenides. Ann Patchett. All for the price of a $5 admission ticket. Is there a better bargain in town? I think not.
Last week I had something scheduled every night. Weeks ago, I'd bought a ticket to see Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Colum McCann. I'd read and loved Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus. I'd read and loved McCann's Let the Great World Spin. I'd even read both Adichie's latest, Americanah, and McCann's latest, TransAtlantic, just because I planned to go to this reading.
But I was exhausted. I am reading a lot aloud these days, at least twenty-eight books a week. I'd spent a long day reading books about friendship to my classes, including a very powerful story I'd read to my second-graders, The Other Side, the story of a black girl and a white girl in the 60's who were separated by a fence and yet overcame that fence's divisiveness to become friends.
I was torn. Stay home and rest or go see Adiche and McCann? Almost impulsively, I headed for Houston.
I got to the theater early. I sat next to a couple on my left but the whole long rest of the row of seats to my right was empty. After a bit, a large group of African-American students came in. The students saw my empty row and sat down. They left one seat empty between us. One empty seat between the white lady and the African American students.
I couldn't help myself; it reminded me too much of The Other Side. I nudged the African-American girl closest to me. "I just have to tell you," I told her, "that leaving this empty seat between us reminds me of a story I read today and it makes me sad."
I shared the story with her. She smiled and said, "Let's move down," to her friends. She, I learned, is studying biology at TSU and minoring in Spanish and wants to become a doctor and has loved to read since her mother read with her as a little girl. I told her I was a librarian and a blogger and we talked books until the reading began. I left her with my card. I felt like I'd made a friend.
So, yes, the stress of doing-too-much probably brought on this flu I've had the last couple of days, but it was worth it.
And the reading was fabulous, too.