so we arrived late to the reading and stood in the back of the crowd. ms. lamott read from the podium to a mature, somewhat sedate audience. i had to resist the impulse to shout out, "hi anne!!!", waving enthusiastically like a preschooler greeting a friend on the playground. instead i graciously acclimated to the quiet studied dignity of the group.
i am here to report that her spoken words are just as powerful as the written: several times my heart swelled and tears glazed my eyes in recognition, in connection. my soul was saying yes, me too, thank you. on repeat.
after the reading and several very thoughtful questions from my new mature sedate studied friends (note to self: next time try to think of a question beforehand so you are not just grinning and nodding like a crazy person at the back of the room), we waited in line for a brief moment of face time. my brain went in overdrive formulating the perfect words to say to her to express my gratitude. i figured i had about ten seconds to get it out, this indebtedness i carry around because she made the choice again and again and again to write down her wildly flawed and spectacular life experiences and thoughts.
as i got closer to the front, camera ready and lines memorized, i watched her interact with people. she was warm and genuine as one can be meeting and connecting with a hundred people in under an hour. to me, she is authenticity personified.
when my turn came, my perfect lines deserted me like the false friends they tend to be. all i could do was grin an utterly thrilled, uncontainable chipmunk-cheeked, eye-crinkling smile. she told me she liked my sweater and that i looked like a cousin of hers. all i had was this: thank you.
then again, emphatically, thank you.