Thursday, August 1, 2013

Coming Home

As a teen in suburban Cleveland, I spent most summer nights sleeping on our second-floor, screened-in porch, on an aluminum cot with a thin foam mattress and a sheet - to escape the heat of my bedroom. My bedroom, which I shared with my older sister, would absorb the heat of the afternoon sun for 6 hours and hold and multiply it. No fan could dislodge the heat that hung in the air and air conditioning was not an option, so the porch became my summer bedroom. 

We lived about 100 yards from railroad tracks where freight trains rode day and night from Midwest loading docks to the East Coast and back, carrying cars, ore, grain, and steel. They weren't the polite commuter trains like the ones I now live near, with orderly schedules, 4 or 5 shock-absorbing cars, and an 11pm curfew. But thundering streams of 20 or more cars whose whistles you could hear coming in the distance, whose weight shook the ground as they road by. As monstrous and scary as they were in the daytime, they became the railway lullaby of lore in the night, lulling me to sleep with their muffled chu-chunk as each car passed over the rail seam.

I returned to that memory last week as I listened to the night trains from our summer cottage rental in Huron, OH. That annual vacation is always a "coming home" for me and the night trains are a revisited comfort I never would have anticipated in my teens.

I felt the same sense of "coming home" as I sat at my first book signing event last Thursday in Joseph-Beth Booksellers at the main Cleveland Clinic campus. It is hard to describe, but the warmth and interest people showed as I described my book reminded me of my own continued belonging to this city I left 27 years ago. The book signing was a great experience, with the store manager describing it as one of their most successful signings, inviting me to return for a repeat performance next time I'm in town. It was validation of the audience I have sought - finding readers who can relate not just to Esther Miller's story, but to the city that was the backdrop of her adult life. 

First book signing of Preacher Kid
The author table was set up at the entrance to the store, flanked by candles and aromatherapy products (and socks!) - providing a welcome calm to help me fend off the jitters. There was a pretty steady stream of customers in this store in a city-within-a-city: Some looking specifically for a book, some browsing to kill time at the Clinic, and others who hadn't considered buying a book until they noticed my table. It was a fun marketing experiment from which I learned a great deal and had the added benefits of my aunt by my side, my sisters and niece making a surprise appearance, and a cameo from my high school friend, Marcia, who can turn any ordinary event into a comedy routine.

I wish I had 20 more signings in Ohio! I'll have to work on that - all assistance welcome! But last week's event was a great kick-off to my slow motion book tour!

1 comment:

  1. It was such an honor and privilege to be with you. As I told you then, my mom would have been bursting all of her buttons to know that she was the subject of a book jumping off the shelves of a Cleveland book store. And to think that it was written by a loving granddaughter would have completely iced the cake for her, to mix my metaphors! It was so lovely to share in that experience. I was bursting a few buttons myself! Love, Aunt Kathy