If it had been a movie, I would've made it. If it had been a movie, I would have weaseled my way onto a different flight or sweet-talked some zillionaire with a private helicopter. In the movie version, I would still have shared that cab from the Newark airport into Manhattan with that sweet goat cheese–farming couple from Lindsay, Ontario, but the cab would have gone faster, the little old lady driving it like a speed demon through the streets of lower Manhattan, skidding up ramps and over fruit delivery trucks, the doors popping open and the crowds carrying me on their hands into the doors of Bluestockings just in time to read to the tearfully appreciative crowd.
But it wasn't a movie. It was real life, and in real life, there was Weather. And when there is Weather, there are flight delays. And so I sat at Pearson Airport in Toronto two Saturdays ago now, watching my departure time get pushed back further and further, cycling like some social media junkie between Facebook and Twitter and e-mail updates, trying to keep abreast with what was happening, trying to calculate backwards the time I had, the time I would need, to get from Newark to lower Manhattan and just how I might bridge that distance. If I read last, if the next time we boarded we boarded for real and didn't turn back off the tarmac again, if there was no traffic, if only I hadn't checked my luggage. I moved through the various stages of grief: from late but I can still make it to will I make it to I don't think I'm going to make it to I'm not going to make it. Make it, that is, to the launch of Here Come the Brides! and the beginning of my Manhattan adventures.
So I sat there, in the airport, glum and stunned, watching all the angry travelers pretty much accuse the gate agent of lying to them, as though if they badgered her long and hard enough she would finally break and admit that the plane was there all along and — ha ha – there was no inclement weather and really they just wanted to fuck with us, and why don't you just climb on right now and we’ll get you to New Jersey just as fast as we can? I sent a final, dejected, round of messages to the various people that needed to get them — my editors, my host, my wife — and tried to take my emotional pulse, all the while thinking all Zen-like, Oh well. Nothing you can do about this anymore, so there's no point in being upset. And I more or less believed that until I actually phoned Rachel from the airport t lounge, and she asked me "How are you?" and I began to cry.
The goat cheese farmers and I pulled up in our cab to Bluestockings just as the last few readers straggled out of the bookstore. I burst in with my suitcase as the staff folded away the remaining chairs, and locked eyes with Stephanie Schroeder, to whom I had been frantically texting from the cab: On my way! A block away! Could still make it! But no. She hugged me, and I had to concede that I had indeed lost my opportunity for that second reading at Bluestockings.
The evening redeemed itself a bit in the form of a lovely gathering afterwards with HCTB editors Michele Kort and Audrey Bilger, as well as many of the evening's readers: Stephanie, Joan Lipkin, Kim Reed. And the week redeemed itself even further as the BlogHer adventures began (of which, more to follow as I sort out exactly how to pare down the overwhelming amount of sheer experience into a few coherent paragraphs).
In the movie version, I would have read that night at Bluestockings and it would have been phenomenal. In the real-life version, I missed it, and that sucks. But I'm still optimistic enough to think that there may be a few more opportunities yet.