I'm back from two days of school visits near Williamsbug, Virginia, arranged by my dear librarian friend Noreen Bernstein, who retired last year as head of children's services at the Williamsburg Public Library. She and I met in a library school class at the University of Maryland in the 1980s. The professor took attendance on the first day, and when he got to my name, Noreen turned to me and said, "I have your books in my library!" We've been friends ever since. Her husband, Alan, who was also in library school with us, gives me wonderful book and film recommendations, such as Dear Committee Members and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. When I visit them, I always stay in the same room, with its cheery red trim, where various Danish exchange students have stayed over the years.
The visit had certain trepidations for me this time, all unfounded, as trepidations usually are. I decided that it was time for me to be like every other author in the universe and have a slide show for my presentation. Gregory helped me make a PowerPoint over spring break, with photos scanned by my sister and her husband: pictures of me as a child, pictures of the boys when they were little, covers of the books, and other standard fare. I was so nervous about dealing with technology after a whole lifetime of fearing and shunning it that I was almost hoping the schools wouldn't be able to find a way to hook up my computer to their projector. But they did, and the presentations were fine, and now I know that what children love best in an author presentation is pictures of the author's dog and cat.
On the way home, I had to change planes in LaGuardia, which I remembered as one of the least pleasant of all airports. I flew on a tiny plane from Richmond to New York, and when I got off the plane I had to walk down those little metal steps to the tarmac, clutching my suitcase with one hand and trying to keep my skirt from blowing up in the propellor-generated breeze with the other. I felt crabby. But then when I got inside, I learned: LaGuardia is nice now. It's hip! It's cool! It's trendy! I sat in a little eaterie called Crust where you order a glass of wine and a little personal pizza on an Ipad from your table. I felt as glamorous as Betsy in Betsy's Wedding when (in 1917) she goes out for lunch with Tib at "a cute new place. You telephone your order from the table." The plane took off an hour late, but I was done with being crabby, peering joyously out the window as we circled over Manhattan, with wonderful views of the crowded skyscrapers and the great green square of Central Park.
I was so happy that I wrote in the little notebook where I keep all my thoughts, "I AM ALIVE! I AM GLAD TO BE ALIVE! I AM ALIVE IN THE WORLD AND HAVING FUN!" Despite everything - and there is always an "everything" to be the subject of a "despite" - it's good to be alive.