In the past six days, I took five planes. My brain, the closest thing I own to a portable electronic device, is still powered down (were it a seat back, it would be locked and in the upright position). But here are a few impressions/memories of my travels:
–There’s a profession I didn’t know existed: media escort. This is an affable, unflappable person who meets you at the airport and pilots you around. For me, a person who hates to drive, this was akin to being given a magic carpet. My escort in Chicago has driven around everyone, and I mean everyone, from Obama to JK Rowling (he took her to a reading when her first book came out: nine people showed up. Next time he took her to an event: ten thousand). This week Caroline Kennedy and Tyra Banks will be in his car (not at the same time)
–Cheryl Klein’s book Second Sight makes an excellent dinner companion. Eating all alone is kind of fun, as you can eavesdrop with impunity on everyone around you. The one time I wished for a tablemate was when a waiter tried to convince me to order a glass of unoaked Chardonnay that he promised would get my “glands in a tizzy”. This sounded so terrifying I’d have liked company.
–Nothing nothing nothing makes you want to write, or feel the responsibility of writing, more than spending time with kids who love stories. I visited three schools, and in each one a couple hundred kids sat cross-legged on the floor to listen to me read and to ask me cool questions, including why I want to be a writer (note the present tense!) All I had to do was look into their faces to know the answer.
–On the anniversary of 9/11, I flew out of LaGuardia and over Manhattan. Normally that island looks so powerful, imposing and magnificent, but that morning, it had a vunerability that put my heart in my throat. And I hoped all over again that , in a world where destruction sometimes seems to be winning out, the equally strong need to create will hold its own.