Moving along from my last post, the TJB writers were together again in New York in October of 2001. We were, of course, promoting the release of this:
I know I’ve talked about this trip on my blog before. Dickens said it best:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…
For all of us to be together with Tom and so many of our other friends in the city was indescribable. The book signings, the launch party, the first face-to-face with our Kensington editor, John. I’m sure most published authors could relay similar experiences, but it’s rare to be able to share it with three other people who were feeling all the same things I was.
Put that against the backdrop of national events and the surreal atmosphere of Manhattan at that time, and the experience becomes…something more intense than bittersweet. It was painful and beautiful. We had a lovely apartment on a high floor in a new part of the city for us–but every morning, I’d wake up to realize I was curled into a tight ball in the corner of my bed farthermost from the window; even in sleep, I couldn’t get the images of the month before out of my brain. We never had a wait in any restaurant, because the tourists just weren’t there. In fact, much of the space that would have been taken up by tourists was being used for displaced people from Lower Manhattan. We spent an evening in, cooking and relaxing and finally feeling a little better, and when Tim walked home that night he got mugged–his first such experience after a decade in the city. One morning we stepped inside a deli on the way to breakfast to get cigarettes, and the proprietor turned from his radio to say, “We just invaded Afghanistan.” We visited the World Trade Center site at rush hour: men in hard hats were leaving the search and recovery area as people in business suits exited their buildings, and the only real sound was that of faraway traffic. People didn’t talk. Cabs weren’t speeding by. Everything was hushed, feelings suppressed, expressions solemn. We were going about the acts of our daily lives, but everything was changed.
Unsettled. I think that’s the word that best describes that trip. It felt as if nothing good could come without a price. As if we were still holding our breath three weeks later. As if we were constantly dreading what might come next. As if some stories are so big that the only ones you can bear are the smaller ones that are your own.
Many moments I cling to are the ones where words weren’t necessary. The way Tom took my hand when I burst into tears as we walked into our terminal at the Houston airport and I saw National Guardsmen. The moments when one of us, in the middle of doing something fun, would sigh deeply and the others would understand. The shared looks of commiseration on the subway when we felt crowded and smothered. The strong wish shared by Steve C, Jim, and me to wrap Tim and Timmy in something that would buffer them from the hurt and the fear of all they’d seen and heard and absorbed since that horrible day.
All we could do was give them love:
lots of shared moments:
and a promise of better days ahead.