My Mayberry

Thirty-something years ago, when we told our friends and family in New York we were moving to Cleveland, they offered their condolences. I accepted. I was far from sure about the move myself.

Fast forward to yesterday, when there was no place else on this green Earth I wanted to be. To celebrate my new book, three mighty Cleveland forces came together with the easy grace and generosity typical of people around here.  All I’d done was mention the book to Suzanne, who runs one of my neighborhood’s three–THREE–indie bookstores, Mac’s Backs.

Before I knew it, she was hatching plans for a party at everyone’s favorite Cleveland Heights restaurant, Tommy’s, owned by a saint named Tommy Fello, who serves falafel and milk shakes worth a trip from anywhere on the planet.

  Oh yes, and smiley pancakes, too. Tommy offered to serve a free breakfast, and Suzanne said she’d donate 20% of book sales to Family Connections, an amazing organization I know well, since it runs a drop-in play center in the library where I work and I’ve often read stories there. It’s staffed by endlessly patient, creative and zany women who nurture families with programs on parenting and early literacy.

1 + 1+ 1 made way more than 3 yesterday, when kids and their caregivers came to listen to me read

And then got to make books of their own.

Food, crayons and books–does it get any better?

Writing is, most of the time, such a solitary thing. But yesterday I was part of a neighborhood, a city, a community of book and kid lovers. I never felt luckier.