When the Book Arrives (I)

Monday…

It’s supposed to arrive today. My book. This thing I’ve slaved over, fretted about and exalted on for so long. I wait. Eager. Expectant. Looking for the UPS truck. My eyes cycling between the window and my phone, hoping for a text or call announcing its arrival. Ten a.m. drags itself into existence, leaving reluctantly. And minutes become hours, an agony that rotates through eleven. Then twelve. And I can’t take it.

Crossing to the office, I’m not surprised that the book hasn’t arrived. But my hope for the afternoon delivery is crushed. “Big shipments don’t usually come in the afternoon,” I’m told. I dial myself back. Don’t get all wired about this. Don’t put too much hope, desire, or excitement into this. Just be cool about it. Don’t bug Ben and Jon for the 1000th time… with your million questions about who, when and what for…about the process, about things I don’t need to know about. I blanket expectation with denial, indifference.

 

Tuesday…

It arrives. Kevin sends me a picture. Boxes stacked on a pallet in the loading bay. But I am away for the day. Ugh.

 

Wednesday…

I arrive at work at 7 am, pick up a copy. It’s beautiful. Smooth, lovely in its lines and fonts, its white spaces. I feel its skin in my hands, fingers sliding across it. I gingerly bend back the cover, pick up words and sentences, captions, quotes. The margins are clean spaces framing the text. I remember each passage as I read it. Flip to another spot. I notice the publishers announcements placed in the empty back pages. It is everything I want it to be. But…

…I feel schizophrenic.

I want to taste it and eat it, and cradle it and cry over it. And jump and dance and stick it next to my skin, next to my heart… like Christmas in November. It’s part of me… the part of me that wants to ingest it and let it merge back into my soul where it came from. But part of me doesn’t know what to do with it, doesn’t know how to feel anything. I can’t seem to shake off the disappointment of Monday. The intentional stuffing of my emotions. I should be jumping about the place in my underwear or something. But I’m not. All that’s happening is that my mind is spinning with a million questions about promotion and who I should send it to and how much it will cost me to buy copies of my own book. I feel crowded in my head.

It’s a surprise, this feeling. It’s not how I expected to feel when my first book actually got into my hand. I’m sure I won’t feel like this tomorrow. But it makes me think about my expectations. What did I really hope to feel? What is this about? It is about me, but maybe I have too much invested in this? I don’t know that I sort anything out. But I feel a mental sigh, an internal shift occur deep down inside. And with it a new thought, an old thought coming. When it’s all said and done, the book is just a thing. A window. An expression. Beautiful perhaps. Maybe even smart. But just a thing. And the most I can hope for is that it does what it was supposed to do: point beyond me.