Summer is a busy travel time. I’m right now preparing for a trip to Topeka for a reunion with students and teachers who were with me at East Topeka Junior High back in the ‘70s. I describe this wonderful start to my career in Chapter 22 of Where the Water Meets the Sand. “I loved the job, the students, and the community. Those children taught me to teach. They teased me sometimes about my pronounced Texas twang, but over time, they embraced me.”
I’m looking forward to this journey. Unlike a lot of people, I really enjoying flying. I love airports in general and, in particular, the sanctuary of airport bookstores. A new book and a good cup of coffee make even the longest flights a pleasurable experience for me. So my travel plans almost always include getting to the airport early enough to browse the bestsellers and thumb through the non-fiction titles. Memoirs, have always been favorites, especially those by new authors who are putting their stories out into the universe for the first time.
This summer, there’s an extra thrill to my browsing – seeing my book on the airport bookstore shelves next to some of my favorite authors. Wow, what a feeling that is! I can just picture vacationers – on the beach, in a tent, on a boat – reading the opening lines, “I awoke gently, having forgotten as I slept…In a few short hours, Larry would leave for Vietnam.”
I have a vivid memory from 10 years ago. My daughter Laura and I were at Chicago O’Hare, flying to Hawaii to accept Larry’s remains and escort them to Washington, DC to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. I stood in the middle of Barbara’s, surrounded by books of all shapes and sizes, and wondered when I would finish writing mine. “Perhaps bringing Larry home is the beginning of the final chapter,” I thought to myself.
Soon after, I finished writing Larry’s and my story, and today it is on the shelf in that very same O’Hare store. I’ve put my story out into the universe. Now that truly is a dream come true.