During Spokane’s Get Lit Festival in April, I had a cold/cough for a couple of days, but I felt better towards the end, though still ebbing and flowing to the tunes of the ‘Quils. But I decided to head out that Thursday evening to hear Jane Smiley, the festival’s headliner (I have almost all of her books and have been a fan for twenty years). Just needed to get out and seek solace and wellness among words.
The week had challenged even my own upbeat purple-itudeness as I precariously balanced the life, demands, and rewards of a working mama. My first thought was, well, let’s see what gold I can mine from the challenges before me, but right on its heels were my familiar companions of self-doubt and guilt. And chasing after that was the thought, hey, it will be all good and it IS all good. Quite the dog chasing cat chasing squirrel fray in my mind.
So I thought, Get Lit. Go to Jane Smiley. I parked about five blocks from the downtown Bing Crosby Theater and armed myself with strawberry cough lozenges, their scent reminding me of the drugstore strawberry lip gloss I loved at Zachary’s age, and started my way to the venue. Along the way, I got caught up in a crowd of 20-somethings on their way to the Knitting Factory Concert House (adjacent to the Bing Crosby Theater) to attend concerts by bands promoting themselves as Sky Eats Airplane, a Texas electronic/hardcore band, and Emarosa, a Kentucky based “screamo/expirimental” band. They were decked out in their black outfits replete with heavily sprayed and teased out hair, poufed and mohawked with blue and green dye, black lipstick and nail polish, with piercings in every orifice.
And then there was me, with MY version of black, with nonsensible colorful Danskos, lilac scarf, and the long, double-strand of dyed pearls, carrying my current read, “Three Cups of Tea,” the story of a man who establishes schools for girls in Pakistan/Afghanistan regions.
“Dude!” one said. “Man, we didn’t mean to almost trip you!”
“Why, that’s quite alright,” I replied. “I’m just on my way to the Jane Smiley reading in the Get Lit Festival.”
“Dude! Right on! People should read more!” To which his pals heartily agreed. “Peace out!” he declared, accompanied by a complicated hand gesture routine ending in the peace sign, as they joined the line forming in front of the Knitting Factory.
“Prevail!” I responded, waving brightly.
We parted ways quite amicably. And the brightness had returned to my step: I had found my solace and wellness in words before the reading had even started.
Human beings are more alike than unalike, and what is true anywhere is true everywhere…(Maya Angelou)