Apologies for being absent for so long. This holiday season has been … busy. Very, very busy. I wondered how I’d find time to even blog my utter excitement at this killer trip I just took. I maybe decided that I’d simply jazz up an email I sent to a friend about my trip.
In June, tickets went on sale for A Conversation with Stephen King at the University of Massachusetts Lowell in December. They went on sale at 10 a.m., when I was in a car Tennessee-bound. Driver Steve just drove, but that left moi, Jeff and Sara to call UMass over … and over … and over … and over to get two tickets.
We started calling at 9:58 a.m. We got through at 10:16 a.m. And all the floor seats were already sold out. I even had the woman looking for a single seat — I’d ditch Jeff in general seating and go get close to Uncle Stevie (he calls himself this in his forwards).
I’ve been trying to see this author for years. It’s been No. 1 on my bucket list since college. About five years ago, I came thisclose to going by myself, to an event in Sarasota, Fla. In recent years, I began to wonder if he planned his events around my friends’ weddings: I was in Phoenix the week before one event, in Mexico the week before another.
And then, finally, a date that meshed: Dec. 7, 2012, Boston, Mass.
“Hey, boyfriend?” I inquired. “Want to go to Massachusetts in December five months before our wedding to see my favorite author? You do? See that’s why I love you.”
The event was a sit-down casual interview, with 3,000 people watching. King was interviewed by a UMass Lowell professor, Andre Dubus, who is a NY Times best-selling author himself. King read a short story, “Afterlife,” that no one had ever heard before. And he took some questions from the audience.
When King walked on stage, I cried. I knew I would. It wasn’t those big, heaving, ugly sobs, but those tears that form when you are so overtaken with excitement and happiness, when it feels like your chest is going to bust into tiny pieces of glee and shock.
So, in general, here are some King/Boston thoughts:
- Stephen King is a small man. Like, old-man tiny. I was surprised. I know he’s 65, but he’s just not an old man to me. I was expecting a behemoth. Because … well, the man is a behemoth.
- Stephen King is awesome. He’s got as potty of a mouth as you’d expect, and he’s super down-to-earth.
- Dubus is, clearly, a major fan of King’s. The journalist in me was appalled at how much he fawned over him. The fan in me figured, if I was interviewing King, I’d have been in his lap, kicking my feet like a child, asking for a story — kind of like if Santa didn’t have a beard and a red suit and instead spent his life scaring the shit out of people.
- The day I saw Stephen King might have been the best day of my life, as even the first half of the day rocked. Jeff and I started in Cambridge at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. It could have been called Jeff’s Heaven — skeletons and animals and rocks, oh my. The museum was part of Harvard University, which is just as beautiful as the movies would make you believe. After museum’ing, we ate the best pizza everrrrrr. (If you ever see a Bertucci’s, go there. Go there all the time, and get a Spicy Salami pizza.) We wandered around downtown Cambridge — lots of tiny shops and awesome bookstores — before we drove to see Stephen King. After King, we found a hole-in-the-wall Greek restaurant. My food was bland, and Jeff’s was flat out wrong, but they had three old Greek men playing Greek music for aging belly dancers, so it was worth it. The mouse I saw scurry across the floor couldn’t even ruin the day (though it did prevent us from staying for coffee … a fucking MOUSE, man).
- Driving in Boston? It makes driving in Chicago look like driving in (insert your tiny two-stoplight hometown here). I told Jeff, if I’d have had to drive, I’d have parked the car in the middle of the road and cried — those big, ugly, heaving sobs I talked about earlier. The roads make NO sense, as the city was clearly built up as it grew, with inlets and bays and water in places where other cities would have, like, trash cans or bike racks.
- We ate dinner one night at the oldest continually open restaurant in the U.S, the Union Oyster House. It opened in 1826 and has had three owners in that whole time. I can’t even fathom that.
When Jeff’s parents picked us up at the airport, his mom asked me, “Well, that was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, huh?!”
I told her, “No way! I already told Jeff, we’re doing that again in two years.”
So, Mr. King, wherever you speak in two years? I’ll be there, darlin’. (Please make it somewhere cool. You seem to stick to the east coast — I’ve always wanted to go to Savannah.)