I’m sitting in the airport at Charlotte, waiting for my flight to bring me home to Minneapolis.
The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of book readings from Minnesota to Wisconsin to North Carolina, where I have been working to give my first book, Caught in the Crossfire, its best chance at finding its readership. I’ve read the pontoon chapter, the stone-skipping chapter, the opening chapter, the skinny-dipping chapter, the flashback chapter, and probably some others that I just can’t think of right now. I’ve read to crowds of 40 or more, and I’ve read for a sprinkling of four or fewer people. Along the way I’ve learned one really important thing: it’s not the size of the crowd that matters, but the size of the connection made with the people who are there. And with that criteria in mind, I’m happy to state that every event has been a smashing success. There was Louie in Madison, Dee in Wales, Gary in Minneapolis, and Darin in Charlotte. There was also the sweet woman in Charlotte who didn’t tell me her name, but made the most beautiful statement.
“Thank you,” she told me, “for writing this story. The ceiling really has been broken.”
My first thought was to swallow down the emotion that surfaced, but then I remembered why I was there and let it show. “No, thank you,” I said, eyes rimmed with tears. “You made my day for coming here today.”
Yes, books were sold and signed, but more important to me were the conversations that occurred spontaneously after the readings with the people who came to the events. Everyone arrived at the bookstores at a different place along the journey toward affirmative love, but nearly everyone had the same burning question they wanted to ask me.
“How did you feel when your son first came out to you?”
“Scared,” I said, “because the world has not been kind to gay kids. I knew I could make my home safe for him, but I didn’t think my one voice could change things for him in the world.
Guess what? I was wrong.”
And then I got to see it, person after person, from Minnesota to Wisconsin to Charlotte: the moment when each person contemplated the power of their one voice in the world.
I would tell you what an incredible privilege that was to witness, but they’ve just begun boarding the plane for Minneapolis and my zone is next to be called. But before I leave Charlotte, I want to thank everyone who came to one of my readings. You’ll never know how much your smiling face meant to me.