Saturday, February 12, 2011
Elizabeth Gilbert kicked of my local library system's author talks series with a free talk at a 1,000 seat theater in the southern metro. I heard about this event a few weeks ago when a facebook post from the author series appeared on my update stream. Hmmm, I immediately added it to my work calendar, but thought I shouldn't get too excited about because I probably wouldn't be able to get in because they weren't issuing advance tickets for it. I pictured myself getting stuck in Friday afternoon traffic or being the 1,001 person in line. So, I sorta forgot about it until this week. It literally wasn't until I had a decision to make about which way to turn my car to leave campus that I decided to see if I could get a spot in the audience.
I got to the theater just as they were opening the doors at 6:15. The line was long. Not out the door long, but long in that it snaked through the entire building so people wouldn't have to stand outside. But I did get a seat around 6:40. Right on the aisle.
Liz came on stage at 7. She was radiant, even from my high-up seat. Warm and funny. She told two stories about her mistaken identity. One about two Estelle Getty-type women who thought she had something to do with "that Eat Pray Love book" and had to ask. When Liz said who she was, one of the women said, "oh, so you're the one that wrote that book based on that movie with Julia Roberts?" The other story was about the store she and her husband own in Frenchtown, NJ. A customer asked her husband if he knew about the store (not knowing he was the owner). She told him she had heard an author owned the store and that it was Barbara Kingsolver. Lots of laughs over these. Liz has a bunch of cousins that live in Minnesota and she was delighted to see many of them in the audience.
She read a few pages from her recent book, Committed, then took questions. A volunteer with a mic walked by me while another question was being answered and I stopped him. So he waited by me. My heart was pounding in my throat. I no like public speaking. For a minute I thought, what are doing, Jill? Then I was up and I asked a shortened version of the question I've wanted to ask her if I ever got the chance. It went something like this:
Hi Liz. I'd love to hear more from you about the conversation you had with Richard about his idea about soul mates. Could you talk a little more about that?
You need to have read to book to know the part I'm talking about and I won't go into it at length here. She smiled and nodded her head and said what Richard told her about soul mates changed her thinking about her life from that point on in the journey she was on. She also said she noticed quite early on in all of her book signings that the most common page readers wanted her to sign (after the standard title page) was the soul mates page. She said that says a lot about how her story is like so many other people's stories too. And then she was on to the next question. There were no more than six asked, so I feel fortunate that mine was one of them.
I loved hearing her answer. And if I had more time with her I would have said her words on that page were the catalyst for me to start thinking differently about my life when I read them in 2007. I sat through the end of her talk thinking how amazing it is that words truly do change lives. What a gift.
I had Committed with me and not EPL, so I had her sign one of my favorite pages in that book - an idea I wouldn't have thought of on my own until she shared it tonight. I really couldn't talk to her when I was a foot away from her. I tried saying something and ended up smiling at her instead.
Here's another part of the story. I wasn't feeling very social as I was walking to my car with my coworker Kaylee yesterday. We were having a pleasant conversation, but I was tired from the week and distracted about how nice it would be just to get home while it was still daylight out and call it a day and maybe that I really did want to try to see Liz tonight. And look what happened by me deciding to be social when I didn't feel like it.
Hooray for the little goals that move you to reach the ones almost too big to believe.