Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Event

I spent most of my three-day visit to New York tromping around in a pair of boots that I really only needed for two hours on Tuesday night. Trouble was, most of the tromping was also done with a backpack on my back, and those boots wouldn't have fit in there with the clothes, toiletries, and books I had brought along. So I dispensed with the comfort of sneakers for those two hours of scuffed fashion. One more day of that would probably have made the tendons and muscles of my calves pop like too-tight guitar strings. Fortunately, there was not "one more day of that."

In the meantime, the tromping was sort of fun. On Monday I went with Marianne to the Museum of Natural History, because when I was providing the links to this post, I discovered they were having an exhibit about Mythic Creatures. It cost a little extra to get in, but it was pretty fun to read about creatures with which I feel familiar, and others I had never heard of before. It was more interesting to see mythic synchronicity across cultures. I love that stuff.

On Tuesday, I went with Seren to the Cloisters. Here we saw things like the Chamber of Smirking Marys and the Painting of the Blood-Gushing Jesus. ("Gushing" may not be the right word, exactly, because, according to the painting, the icon of Jesus managed to aim the blood right out of his ribcage into the waiting chalice of the priest who was worshiping there.) Medieval art is Really Weird a lot of the time. Small American museums instituted by millionaires are often a bit weird as well. But I kind of like those things, too.

After tea at the end of our Cloisters loitering, I got into the outfit that the boots were truly meant for and returned to Manhattan. The Yale Club is directly outside of Grand Central Station, and I got there just in time. The Lloyd Alexander memorial evening turned out to be another moment of mild weirdness, because I didn't know a single person there. I didn't even know who anyone was. It is kind of awkward, I realised, when the only person you know who is relevant to the event you are attending is dead.

This was how I rediscovered that I am a completely inept at conversing or networking with strangers unless there's a counter and a cup of coffee between us. I have no idea how to start a conversation with people I've never met. Apparently I don't know how to keep one going either, because at least three times that night, people introduced themselves to me, began to talk about Lloyd, and then, when I began to talk about my own (albeit minimal) experience as his friend, found someone else they urgently needed to talk to.

On the other hand, Sharyn November, editor of the Firebird imprint of the Penguin group, made a valiant effort to meet everyone in the room, and everyone did include me. Also, Jim Jacobs of Brigham Young University was cordial and friendly and even seemed genuinely interested in my experience of writing to Lloyd. Blouke and Marianne Carus of Cricket Magazine (etc.), who had spearheaded this event, were lovely. And I met one of Lloyd's granddaughters--the one who had taken greatest care of him at the end. Lloyd had one more book about to be published when he died, and all of us at the event got a free copy of it--as well as of his first published book, and some of the Carus magazines. This was generous and unexpected and delightful.

Besides, it was great to hear other people's stories. Some who had been particularly close to Lloyd were given the opportunity to speak to all of us, and it was fascinating to hear what other people had known of him more close at hand. I didn't feel the need to cry anymore. But I did still wish he had been there, to really talk to.

Photos by jennw2ns: Museum Unicorn 2007; The Cloisters 2007; Photo of Photo of Lloyd 2007.

Photo by J.S. Jacobs: Jennw2ns w2 Books and Illustration.


Christianne said...

I'm proud of you for having the courage to go to such an event, even though you didn't know one single soul. I'm with you: such an event would have exhausted me completely, and I would have had no idea, either, what to talk to those complete strangers ab0ut. But you did it, and that's brave, and that's an important thing. It's also great, in my book, that you did it all for your love of Lloyd.

Heather said...

I echo Christianne.
And, by the way, that's my unicorn. The one I'm riding in heaven.

L.L. Barkat said...

Oh! You were in NYC and I missed you. Can I make up for it with the Turkish zucchini fritters and chickpea salad recipe I promised you a few weeks back?

Jenn said...

Christianne--has anyone ever "diagnosed" you with the gift of encouragement? 'Cause, um, I think you have it.

Heather--That Particular Unicorn might not be the one for you. He seemed a little stiff. (Even stiffer than me after three days of boots.) But, maybe his Platonic ideal, of which he is the shadow . . .

LL--I WONDERED if I could have seen you! Well, next time I'll just invite myself. ;) Meanwhile, the recipe is a good consolation prize. Thanks!

sdn said...

But I did still wish he had been there, to really talk to.

oh, me too, believe me.

::is sad beyond words::

Jenn said...

sdn--I do believe you. Thanks for chatting.

Jenn said...

It sounds like you had a wondertul time. The Cloisters is one of the things in NYC that I'd really like to see sometime. Thanks for being brave on behalf of all of us who wish we could be!

Anonymous said...

Strange isn't it, that I had pretty much the same experience as you there (and we didn't meet!). I didn't know anyone at the event either...

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