In which our reporting knitter is surprised and apologizes for the long post, it was a big day.
From the incredible scene in Central Park, I went for lunch with my handlers my editor and Jayme-the-wonder-publicist to figure out the schedule for the rest of the day. I could hardly eat. It’s like I said to the knitters on Thursday night. I’m an idiot. I totally get into this whole big planning thing…all excited. There will be yarn crawls and tours and knitters and socks in Central Park and then we’ll all go to the book launch and we’ll have the best time….and then I remember the part where I have to stand up in front of everybody and the nausea starts. (It is a testament to both my short attention span and my stupidity that I fall for this over and over again.)
Back to the hotel after lunch to try to fix my hair, pick up my dress pants (decide to screw it and wear jeans), get batteries for the camera, post the imagine picture and whip back out the door again. Ms. TMW and my friend Linda came with me (though I suspect they were just shadowing me to try and keep me from executing my escape plan.) and while we were in the room, the phone rang. I answered, and my mother-in-laws voice said “Stephie! ” (I only tolerate my immediate family calling me Stephie.) “I’m here! I’m in New York! I came to see you!”
The bottom fell out of the world. She was three blocks from the hotel and I could hardly believe it. My own mum had been planning on coming before she had a passport problem, and this was a lovely make-up. Carol often turns up all over the world (she worked for an airline) but she had never been to New York. I was delighted. Stunned, surprised…and delighted. We went trouping down to FIT then…
(Mother-in-law/knitter Carol on the left) It was the most enormous surprise ever. Or so I thought.
I arrived at FIT, signed as many books as I could and was sequestered in the back room where I made repeated trips to the bathroom and melted down. I could hear the space filling up. My terror that nobody would come was slowly replaced with the horror that you had all come! I panicked. I imagined all the ways I could screw up. I tried to mentally calculate how many bloggers were out there who would be able to tell the world about when my pants fell down or I said a bad word or threw up or fainted dead away or had something stuck in my teeth. I brushed my teeth. I decided to peek. I decided I would sneak to the stage, pull back a little bit of the curtain and have a look. Get the lay of the land. See the podium. See what the room looked like so it wouldn’t be a shock. Look for knitters I know and see you all knitting and remember that you are all just like me and I don’t have to be afraid of you.
I stood up and made for the stage, telling Jayme-the-wonder-publicist that I was going to look. Imagine my surprise when Jayme, normally a very gentle person, practically tackled me around the knees and took me out. “NO” she said.
NO? Nobody tells me no. Not about my own party.
“I’ll just peek” I said. “One quick peek.” I wrestled free of her deadly grip and bolted. I was blocked by someone else.
“No!” they said…their arms thrown up to block me like I had just announced my intention to set fire to my stash and quit knitting.
I stared at them. I tried to figure out where this sort of oddity was coming from. No? I told them nobody would see me (although I don’t know what would be wrong with that. You all knew I was there, for the love of crap.) and eventually told them that I would just stick my arm out and take a picture, then look at the picture. I bolted.
Jayme grabbed my arm…Linda trailed behind looking worried. Jayme and I engaged in a brief tussle at stage right (during which I may have uttered the incredibly mature phrase “You’re not the boss of me”) and eventually (I may be little, but I am wiry) I broke free and ran for the stage. Laughing all the way – but secretly suspecting that the stress of this event had finally gotten to Jayme and she had snapped like a cheap cotton laceweight. I stuck my arm out from the edge of the curtain (did anyone see me?) and I took this.
I pulled my arm back in and looked at it on the little screen, where, actually, it looked like this.
I couldn’t see anybody. It was a blur. There was a podium through, and the crowd didn’t look mean. I went back to the backroom, squinting at the screen and trying to make out all of you. Jayme told me not to try that again. I told her I would if I wanted to. Jayme-the-wonder-publicist looked nervously at me…sort of like I was a container of nitro-glycerine.
The time came. I walked out. The knitters were all there. The bloggers let fly with a barrage of very scary flashes and it hit me like a ton of bricks. You were representing. There were hundreds of knitters. Knitters everywhere. Big knitters, young knitters, gramma knitters and male knitters…knitters with tatoos, knitters who are lawyers. Knitters…knitters, knitters. That auditorium holds 775 people. There were a few empty seats, but only a few. It was incredible. It was stupendous. It was more than I expected and what I have always suspected secretly…which is that we are not just a community or a club. We are a culture. I introduced myself (I think some people already knew me) and I took my sock pictures.
(I love that you can see the flashes of the cameras as we engage in reciprocal blogging, me taking pictures of them, them taking pictures of me. Very cool.) I moved to the microphone. I took a deep breath. I made a secret wish to walk away with a shred of my dignity intact, and I launched. I started to tell the story of how my mother-in-law had surprised me…and I waved my hand in her direction and looked at her, and I stopped breathing. There was someone familiar sitting beside her. Very familiar. Like, I’m married to him kind of familiar.
It was Joe. My lovely Joe. I have no idea what I said or did then. None. It was an out of body experience. I couldn’t believe that he was there. He was there when I wanted to peek…..that’s why Jayme tackled me. See the picture from above?
Front row. Sitting right next to my mother-in-law (who is totally sneaky for getting him there.) He’s even in the sock pictures.
I walked right over, stood in front of him…held out the sock and moved on. Dude was right there. Right there, grinning like an idiot because I didn’t notice him. (He told me later that it was payback for the bedroom.) It was an incredible addition to the evening and I was proud and pleased that he thought to come and surprise me. (He fixed the dishwasher too.) With Joe there, I couldn’t imagine a bad ending.
I more or less read my speech, I represented… and it was over and I was back to the part I love. Knitters. I answered questions while Juno ran among the knitters, giving out pins and collecting cash for KWB… ( $1595.20 was handed to Charlie, staff representing from the MSF office across the street- how’s that for cutting out shipping and handling!)
Young knitters to be:
Spouses who got sucked into the vortex of knitterly energy that filled the hall and knit for the very first time:
Knitters who knew each other virtually and walked away knowing each other literally:
and one very tired, pleased and proud me, who knew that we could blow peoples minds and couldn’t be more thrilled that we did. You should have seen the looks on the organizing muggles faces. It was an evening of walking among my people, of knowing that we are all on a team, a big team. A team that blows all the rules and stereotypes out of the water. A team that ranks knitterhood above all else and accepts all comers. A team that whatever happens to you, there are enough knitters who love you just the way you are, and just for being a knitter that we would all try to catch you if you fell.
It was powerful, it was representing, it scared the hell out of my husband, and I can’t wait to do it again.
and to answer Kellee’s question in the comments yesterday, no. There was no mosh pit. (Silly knitter. Mosh pits are for people who aren’t all carrying pointy sticks. Holy pincushion Batman.) Tomorrow… “When we rule the world, everybody will have a hat.” and how to show your mother-in-law New York if she’s never been and you love it there. Carry on knitters. Carry on.