I was pretty excited, getting up this morning. My wife and I had Made Plans, and they were thus: we were going to drop off our oldest, Zach, with parents, then with the youngest in tow, drive for a couple of hours past the Twin Cities and go listen to Neil Gaiman talk in Stillwater, at a Jr. High School (the gig was put on by the Stillwater Library, who didn’t have the space.)
It was such a lovely plan.
It fell apart immediately. For one thing, it always takes longer to get kids ready than I think it does, so suddenly it was later than I wanted. And then, as we were ready to leave…Nathan (youngest) began vocalizing the notion that he was STARVING RIGHT NOW, so we had to settle in and feed him a bottle, thus making us later.
Then, traffic. Later.
Then road construction (the Minnesota pasttime). Even later.
In my mind, I was remembering what Neil Gaiman had said about the event he did in Indianapolis a day or so before – 1,400 people had shown up. I had visions of 1,400 people turning up in Stillwater, and if we were late, there’d be no room for us.
So as we drove along, I admitted defeat and suggested that rather than drive the full two hours only to have to turn around, that we simply go to the Mall of America.
So we did. And I will say, it was lovely. We walked around, pushed a stroller. While feeding Nathan, an interesting woman with a thick accent and rushed speech and a tendency to look away from me when talking sat down and told me what she thought of Old Navy, which I was in front of, and her own baby coming in six months, and why the hell that girl going by us was walking all funny and so forth.
In Barnes & Noble, I bought a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, which I’ve begun reading slowly.
It was a nice, casual walkaround of an afternoon.
Then we got home, settled in, and I thought it was the end of a nice day in which I’d failed to see Neil Gaiman.
(Who I had previously seen in an admittedly awkward event in the Mall of America, something like five years earlier on the end of his Anansi Boys tour).
And then I saw a twitter from him. Which I will quote in full.
The Stillwater reading was my favourite of the 3. The others were great, but this had my dogs and was small enough to meet everyone after.
In the age of thousand person Neil Gaiman events, the one that I lose heart on and fail to go to would be the one small and personal favorite event. Now with added dogs.
I kicked myself.
The Moral of the story is this: When in doubt, go the distance anyway and be really sure that something is absolutely going to not work. Only THEN turn around. It won’t kill you, and you’ll probably still have a nice lunch after.
(Walking around with my wife and 50% of my sons, though, is never a bad day by any stretch, mind.)