Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My World is Changing

For years, the Texas Book Festival, traditionally held in late October, was a highlight of my professional year. Melinda and I developed a tradition--we left about ten Friday for Austin, stopped someplace interesting for lunch, picked up her good friend (and now mine) KK in Austin, and went to Z Tejas for happy hour. Then we set up the booth--she swears I never did, but I know I did. Sometimes my Megan joined us for a drink; other times she just picked me up. I divided the weekend, spending one long day being professional at the festival--manning our booth, visiting with friends, greeting authors, all those things I thought were my responsibility as director of TCU Press. The other day, usually Sunday, I spent with Megan, Brandon, and my two Austin grandsons. On Monday, Melinda and I had breakfast with our beloved designer, Barbara Whitehead, and then headed home.
For several years, we had lunch at a Christian commune near Elm Mott, Texas. The food was marvelous, and we enjoyed the gift shop and a couple of times toured the various workshops--weaving, woodworking, pottery, etc. But then a scandal about the place and child abuse erupted, and we never went back. Last year, we lunched at a lovely bistro in Waco (no, that's not an oxymoron). This year, Melinda, who wrote a book on Texas wineries, wanted to stop at the Rising Star Winery in Salado. Enjoyed wine and a cheese and fruit platter, but we were hungry by the time we got to Z Tejas and split a spinach/mushroom quesadilla.
Megan and I meant to go to the festival Saturday but I made lunch plans with old friends, and she was expecting a crowd for supper and to watch the TCU/UT game. One of the friends I had lunch with had spent the morning at festival presentations and was looking forward to going back for the afternoon. But the programs--panels and readings, etc.--never drew me much. I liked mingling with the crowds, talking this book and that to potential buyers, visiting with colleagues.
Megan and I went to the festival Sunday. She was offended because she saw a huge display of books for $5 and under and decided it was too commercial. I walked through several tents, saw nothing of interest and not the one booth I was looking for. Finally we ran into friends and figured out where TCU Press and the A&M Consortium were. Went there--but few of the people I wanted to see were there. And during all my wanderings, I saw no familiar faces, nobody I could hug and say "Gosh, haven't seen you in a while. How are you? What are you writing." It just wasn't the same world. After forty-five minutes, I told Megan I was done, and as we walked away I said, "I don't need to come back next year." Oh, I'll ride to Austin with Melinda and visit my family, but I don't need the festival.
Maybe it's that all my friends, like me, are aging, and they don't feel the festival is as important. Maybe it's that younger people are manning the booths and filling the role I used to fill. But it was no longer my world.
It's okay. I'm happy in my world of mysteries--and family and friends.


Vera Rowell said...

New chapters in life can be as interesting and exciting as new chapters in literature. you've got quite a few chapters to write now with your mysteries! Personnally I love this time of life and i know you do, too. -
- Vera

Judy Alter said...

Vera, I find my new chapter in life so exciting I can't imagine why I put off retirement as long as I did. It is indeed a good time of life. I may be happier than I ever was except when my babies were little. Pray we all keep our health!