Hopeful Haunts

We’d promised the kids we’d go to Cedar Point this Summer, but events transpired to prevent that (the detour south to West Virginia from New Jersey made the trip a bit impossible.)

So then we edited the promise and said we’d go to Valley Fair before the end of the Summer, but that didn’t happen either.

We don’t make promises lightly – the kids are constantly trying to get us to make promises that we have no intention of making, but we hold firm. We only promise what we know we can do.

Life is so uncertain, it’s better to be upfront with the kids about what we can promise vs. what we hope.

So the fact that we’d told the kids we WOULD go to Valley Fair this year (which is part of the Cedar Point family) was weighing heavily on Gerry.

Yesterday we told the kids we had to go to a political event, they gamely piled into the car and we drove a half an hour to Shakopee. Hannah and Max were shocked and delighted when we turned into Valley Fair for the evening Starlight Valley Scare event, and we rode the rides and walked through the manufactured fog and the wooden-backed gravestones, waiting patiently in line for the big rides and rushing through the smaller attractions.

We picnic’ed before we went in, picked up the $3 off coupon at Taco Bell for each ticket and tried to make it as frugal an event as possible.

I felt so disconnected, so distant. Constantly asking, “Are you having a good time?”, “How are you feeling, Gerry?”, “Isn’t this fun, Hannah?” but feeling out of body myself. Maybe it’s making sport of the dead when I feel so raw from Jan’s death. Maybe it was just my own under-the-surface malaise that haunts me these days.

We had fun, but I was subdued. I was thrilled to find “Whack A Mole” before we left, my own personal favorite (and one on which I’ve never been bested…) and won both kids inflatable billy clubs so they could continue a rousing game of “Whack A Sibling” on the way to the car.

Gerry joked that he thought the game was “Whack A Mohel”, which made me laugh.

Today is a big day for me, I’m doing a reading at Common Good Books [downstairs] that I’ve been looking forward to for weeks, and I feel scared. Gerry wants to videotape the event, that’s fine with me, maybe we’ll youtube it in our own nod to BookSpan TV.

Reading out loud about our fears in 2007, the tensions and the heartbreaks, will be hard with the memory of Jan’s recent passing.

I miss her very much, I know the pain will abate but right now it’s very raw and intense.

Seeing old friends this week was wonderful, lunch with London at Nyes; an evening chat with Jane while the kids played. It made me feel a little more myself.

But it wasn’t until our friend Jim stopped by to pick up his son after a playdate that I realized how disengaged I felt.

Usually I jump up, stand around, chat, we laugh. This time I was so introverted, so inside myself. It wasn’t until he’d left that I realized how small in the room I felt.

And today I have to inhabit a larger room and be big, broad, and kind of funny.

I can’t let myself retreat into the withdrawl I crave, not today. I bought champagne because I want to celebrate today.

I want to be so happy that I’m signing my book about living in St. Paul at Garrison Keillor’s bookshop, but the sadness of Jan is the crack that allows fears to invade my bliss.

  1. What if I suck.
    I could. It’s possible I could just be terrible, not funny, not coherent.
  2. What if I cry.
    Not pretty cry, but ugly-red-face, snotty-nosed bawl?
  3. What if no one shows up?
    Or worse, what if 3 folks show up?
  4. What if 100 folks show up?

But regardless of the fears, which usually don’t haunt me, I’ll be there at 2:00 and I’ll sign as many books as folks want me to.

I’ll even sign books that aren’t mine, that’s how accommodating I’ll be. Bring me your Nicky Epstein’s and Sally Mellville’s, I’ll sign them all!

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