“I have had lots of troubles in my life, most of which never happened.”
Two weeks ago I was replacing windshield wipers and readying for a trip to Galesburg as winter storm landed in Central and Southern Illinois.
I regretted that I hadn’t bought tickets to see David Sedaris last fall, and was determined to see him, so the next and best place to see him was Galesburg. I like Galesburg. It’s in Western Illinois. On a good day, you can make it in about three hours from Chicago. I bought four tickets in December without worry. It would be great if friends could join me, and if not, then I’d go it alone and sit very comfortably with vacant seats beside me.
Outside of the weather two weeks ago Saturday was a good day. It was a six hour road trip with a stop in Dixon, Illinois for lunch and a quick stop at the home where Ronald Reagan once lived. The lowest point of the day came when I learned that the weather grounded my sister in Peoria. I was disappointed as I looked forward to being in her company and hearing her laugh.
Sedaris was wonderful. Here are some things that stuck with me:
- He never reads what people write about him.
- He often jots things down about his day, and later uses those observations and an impetus to write.
- He writes every day.
- He knows that he could be, probably should be a better son.
- He’s impressed by people who are better children to his parents more than he considers himself.
- He finds comfort in the knowledge that ends his day with someone, and besides someone.
My friend decided she wanted to get a book signed so we stayed long after the set was done. I forgot my books, so I bought two more (one that I forgot I read 20 years ago). Sedaris spoke with every person. He was not an assembly line by any means, saying hello, thank you, opening the book, signing his name, closing the book and hollering next.
I talked to him about being a mom, being a former reporter, and being like him, a writer. He smiled an grabbed a sticker, and then wrote, “Dear Karen, I hope to read your prose.”
When we aren’t looking life happens. If we are present, we are lucky enough to remember the moments that remind us how huge an oyster this world is. I have played my two-minute conversation with Sedaris over and over and over in my head. During these last two weeks, my sketch writing class is transitioning from writing to acting. Our work will become an hour-long show in March. In the opener, my fellow writers and players wrote my intro as “So, I am Karen and I love to write.” When I first read it, I thought it was lame. I struggled to find a word that would rhyme with the next person’s line that ended in height. And I failed. As lame as it is, it is true. It is who I am, and it’s taken 47 years for me to declare it.
A writer: That’s what Sedaris owns, his writing is his life. It’s his truth. And I am happy that he helped me own mine. I may not have a future book tour that prompts people to drive through winter storms to see me, but I do have this blog, a paper and pen, the gift of observation and a wicked imagination to see this through.