Happy Birthday, Anne Lamott.
You don't know me. We've met, but I couldn't remember my name to offer as an introduction. The only thing I managed to force out of my mouth was: "I'm a fan" and "thank you."
*Brilliant* I stated the obvious after standing in a line for 45 minutes and I thanked you for what? Writing? Signing a copy of your book? Being a compassionate human being with cool hair? I spread my "thank you" frosting on your desert from my Easy Bake oven.
I didn't say any of things that I wanted you to hear.
From simple things like "Happy Birthday a few days early" to more complex things like discussing something powerful I read on the top of page 190. How I considered bringing a pack of index cards to you since you indicated it's one of your favorite writing tools. I imagined a brief exchange of pleasant laughter and then I would go on to explain that I didn't bring any index cards because I'm ridiculous. Why would you want a pack of index cards from a stranger as a birthday gift? How I tortured myself out of giving this inexpensive token to you because I didn't know if you preferred lined or unlined. I don't know the answer to that. Do you like multi-colored or plain white? For the multi-colored, I assuredly vetoed the neon colors my 12 year old would love, but considered soft pastels may be acceptable? I have no idea. Then there's the whole issue of size. 3X5 or 4X6? You mentioned that you sometimes fold index cards and put them in your back pocket, so should I go with the smaller size? It's all so stressful and sad. I have no idea what *THE* Anne Lamott prefers in notecards because we're not friends, acquaintances or someone you would pass in the office supply store.
Your writing makes me feel like we're friends - not in a weird stalker way - but in a way that when I read your words, sometimes I whisper, "Yes...Yes. Exactly." But if we were friends, I still would've waited in a book signing line in a town 4 1/2 hours away just to see you - again, not in a weird stalker way - but because I support you and I believe in the kindness of your words. But I am sorry I didn't at least say "Happy Birthday" or tell you I thought about bringing index cards, or that I drove a long time to see you or that I cherished every sentence in Bird by Bird. I didn't say a damn thing except - "I'm a fan" and "thank you." I should get points at least for the "thank you" because at least I'm grateful for something.
But here's what I am going to say to you now.
Thank you for signing my copy of Bird by Bird on page 8. It was an usual request since most everyone wants you to sign the title page or inside cover. But while I was standing in line, I read the sign that said Anne Lamott is unable to do individual photographs or autograph personalizations and I honor your time constraints and boundaries. Though, please allow me this one brief side note: You showed class when you moved your chair from behind the table and set it to the side where you could sit and rest your right arm. Your fans felt like you were more approachable and there wasn't a table barrier in front of you.
Anyway, I asked you to sign page 8 because in the bottom paragraph, you use the word *frantic* in a sentence and that was the closest I was going to get to personalization. You signed your name near part of my name and I'm delighted.
Happy Birthday, Anne. Thank you for your gifts and talents. I'm so happy that it feels like my birthday. I sort of got to meet you. You sort of personalized an autograph and as you spoke on writing, life, and religion, I was fortunate to be a part of that sold out crowd. Never blow out your candles. Keep shining your light on our shadowy places just as the flashlight in the dark or the headlights on the road.
Much respect and adoration,