Tonight, while standing in line to meet you amongst all the happy people milling about waiting to do the same, I learned something about you that made me love you even more.
I was told that during this major publicity tour for your new novel “South of Broad”, you chose just two, small, independent bookstores to make appearances at: and one of them was our own beloved The BookMark in Atlantic Beach, Florida. (No, I don’t own The BookMark, but just ask the owner: she knows that I wish I did.) And there you were, patiently meeting and talking and talking and talking with person after person while the line snaked its way around the small shop, out the door and down the street.
I was prepared for the long wait. I knew I’d be amused, chatting up my neighbors in the line, everyone who’d come out for you, too. It was festive and fun, each of us lugging our armload of Conroy books-to-be-signed as the line inched its way toward you. I kept glancing at you during the long wait. You showed no impatience, and you appeared to be genuinely listening to and interacting with each fan, when it was, finally, their turn for face time with the Pat Conroy.
I wondered what people could possibly be saying to you. I’d have loved to be loitering nearby, pretending not to listen. When it was finally my turn, I had nothing witty to offer; no questions, sought no advice. I really just wanted to meet you, and have my three books personally signed to me, by you. I had to express how deeply I appreciated your coming to our town, to our bookstore. You see, we have a special community here, the storefront bookseller in a unique pedestrian town by the sea, and it’s really enhanced because important writers like you do show up and meet your readers in events like this.
Thank you for posing with me. While I wasn’t going to monopolize your time (like some people were wont to do, and you were so gracious in receiving them all) especially since I didn’t have too much to say and the line was still out the door and folks were waiting in the rain; neither did I intend to let my moment pass without a photo to record it!
So, thank you for meeting me, Pat Conroy. I’ve loved your books, your writing is like poetry, and now I can see that you are a true gentleman, too.
Oh, and this? You were awesome.
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Jeannie Greenwald is a blogger, neighborhoods / 'go local' evangelist, hobbyist photographer, and degreed psychologist.