This has certainly been a weekend of firsts: Mom’s first visit to my summer habitat in northern Michigan; my first live radio interview; my first book signing; the first time an artist has rendered my likeness with watercolors; and the first time I’ve ever met someone who recognized my voice from the radio.
So, all in all, it’s been a terrific weekend – and Mom’s first trip to Michigan has been interesting, to say the least. After picking her up from Bishop International Airport in Flint (once home to filmmaker Michael Moore) on Thursday afternoon, Dan and I drove her three hours north to Gaylord, a town that we regularly visit during the summer months for movie showings, grocery shopping, and other errands. My mom appreciated the distinct Alpine vibe of downtown Gaylord, where even the Glen’s supermarket has a Bavarian façade and a working glockenspiel.
Following the grocery trip, we headed to our house in the woods near Lewiston, a quiet, flyspeck village that was once the heart of a thriving logging industry. Upon seeing our house, nestled amid the trees that surround Big Bear Lake, Mom knew exactly why we love it here. I gave her a quick tour of the grounds, including the dock where we fish for bass and the hammock where I’ve spent many a pleasant afternoon, then we headed inside for a quiet evening at home.
On Friday morning, I rose early and tried to steel myself for my first on-air radio interview. While Dan and my mom walked to the “big house” (my in-laws’ adjacent three-story home) to listen to my interview, I called the radio station, Eagle 101.5 FM in Gaylord; told the morning disc jockey, Mike Reling, that I was a virgin interviewee; and proceeded to share my passion for Michigan with his listeners. Despite my nervousness, the interview went well enough that Mike asked me to be a regular guest on his morning show. Feeling triumphant (and aglow with my family’s warm congratulations), I took Mom on a blueberry-picking trip in the nearby woods, and though our yield was small, we enjoyed being outdoors together.
When we returned, I discovered that Mike Reling had sent my morning interview via email. Dan and I listened to it together, and I was delighted to learn that I didn’t sound half-bad. In fact, I seemed upbeat, energetic, and knowledgeable – and better yet, I didn’t embarrass myself on air. Yahoo!
Now that the most anticipated part of my day had passed, I was eager for a work-free evening. So, following a 2.5-mile “power” walk with Mom, we relaxed in the hot tub for a while, enjoyed Dan’s scrumptious dinner of mesquite steak, grilled zucchini, and buttery sweet potatoes, and played a rousing round of Rummy before retiring for the night.
By Saturday morning, however, the nerves were back. My first book signing was just a few hours away, and although my interview had gone well, I was panicky that I’d become a babbling idiot at Saturn Booksellers. While I got dressed and gathered my notes (yes, the lifelong nerd had prepared notes), Dan packed up our digital camera, a few pens, a map of Michigan, some promotional postcards about my novel, and several extra Moon Michigan travel guides (just in case the store ran out of its supply – as if!). Then, Dan, Mom, and I were off to Gaylord.
As it turned out, I had little to worry about. Karin, the store manager, and the other employees (Darcy and Emily especially) were gracious and helpful, and the signing itself went quite smoothly. I signed several travel guides, met some wonderful locals (like the store manager’s mom, the owner’s husband, and a Lewiston resident named Becky Johnson), saw some old friends (even email pals like Elizabeth and Christine, whom I’d never met in person before), and got a chance to promote not just Michigan, but my unpublished novel, too. Boy, do I love the easygoing atmosphere of an independent bookstore!
The two-hour book signing flew by, and afterward, a strange thing happened. A local artist came into the store and asked me if I would sit for a watercolor portrait. Since I’d never heard that request before, I agreed. While she worked on the painting, I autographed the remaining guides (so much for my stash in the van!), signed my event poster, and talked to some last-minute shoppers. When the artist was done, I thanked Karin and the other staff members, and then Mom, Dan, and I headed to lunch and a movie.
Today, an even stranger thing occurred. After breakfast and a morning walk, Mom and I accompanied my mother-in-law, Dee, on a short drive to Lewiston, where we perused the few gifts shops that were open on a Sunday. While there, we stopped in a store called My Sister’s Stone Cottage – the owner of which (a pleasant woman named Flo Bates) recognized me from my brief radio interview on Friday morning and proceeded to purchase six of my travel guides to sell in her store. That might not sound like a big deal, but I was pretty excited nonetheless. Although I might be a long way from becoming a best-selling novelist, I hope that I’ll never forget what it feels like to experience such validation for the first time.
I hope, too, that I never forget how precious the little moments are... like taking a boat ride around Big Bear Lake with my mom for the first time, having a yummy dinner at a local joint like Paul’s Pub, and making s’mores in front of a beautiful campfire on a cool summer’s night. Yep – it’s the little moments that matter most – at least that’s what Mom says.
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