Crooked Letter Crooked Letter

My friend Marion flew in from Houston today, so around lunchtime I picked her up at the airport in Birmingham and drove to Mississippi. I had my first book signing for Home is Where My People Are this afternoon, and since it happened to be in my hometown, that means that I saw my second grade teacher and my 9th grade English teacher and my 10th grade English teacher, too. I tried to soak up the sweet faces and the sound of all those Mississippi accents in one place (oh, IT WAS GLORIOUS), and while I didn’t take a single picture, I feel like I have a big ole snapshot of the afternoon in my mind. Martha brought her rocky road brownies, Mama made a coconut pound cake, and there was coffee and lemonade and a really good corn dip and it was all just perfect.

I learned with the first book that just about every book signing has a moment where you pretty much want to bawl your eyes out. Sometimes it’s seeing a friend you didn’t expect, sometimes it’s the realization that you really did finish the dadgum book and you can prove it because there are copies right in front of you and you’re signing them, and sometimes it’s just a moment that feels like pure grace or pure mercy or a combination of both. It’s always interesting to me to see what that verge-of-tears moment turns out to be and why.

When I was in high school my very best guy friend was named Greg. I don’t think I’ve seen Greg in about twenty years, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that we’d pick up right where we left off if we ran into each other. We were super close for the better part of five years, and his parents were some of my favorite people on earth. They loved Jesus with an openness that went way beyond “church talk” – and I was just fascinated by them. Over time Greg’s mama became like a second mama to me, and when I was going through the process of trying to sort out my faith in my junior and senior year of high school (and there was lo, even more sorting ahead in college and grad school), I’d listen to her talk about life and church and Jesus and think, “THAT is what I want my faith to look like. THAT is how much I want to love Him.”

After high school I didn’t see Greg’s mama nearly as often, but I’ve never forgotten the impact of her love for people, her love for the kids she taught, and her love for the Lord. And when she walked in the book signing this afternoon, I honestly could have just fallen apart right there on the spot. It was such a precious moment to me – and then I got to sign a book for Greg’s three girls. I have smiled about that all night. Because even when we can’t think to plan it, somehow we always find our way back to our people. Or they find their way back to us.

And it’s the sweetest thing.

So tomorrow (Thursday) Marion and I will continue our trek down I-20, and book signing #2 will be at Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi. (“If we show up, we’re gonna show out, smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.”) (Name that tune.) Initially I thought the signing was at 4, but it’s actually at 5, and I wasn’t even surprised when I realized that I was wrong because I have a real knack for messing up dates and times. Those kinds of specific details tend to confound my big picture, we’ll-figure-it-out-down-the-road personality.

Anyway, I’ll see some of my very best friends in Jackson, and the accents will continue to be a treat, and I’ll get to hang out in what may be my most favorite bookstore of all (if you’ve never visited Lemuria and find yourself in or around Jackson, GO – it is such a gorgeous place).

And if you’ve read Home is Where My People Are, you may remember the chapter where I’m teaching outside of Jackson and my friend Kimberly and I go riding around late at night with our friend Coach Johnston. We ended up driving a good ways on a road that just flat-out spoke to me, and it occurred to me a little while ago that I’ll have to travel that very same road tomorrow to get to my friend Elise’s new house.

I don’t know why, but I love stuff like that – when life just circles right on back to something from years ago. And if I hear some REM and find myself wearing a mock turtleneck from Banana Republic, then I will know that I haven’t really had a full circle moment as much as I’ve time traveled back to 1996.

Fingers crossed that I’ll still have my sassy denim jumper.

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  1. Sallie Baker says:

    🎶 UPTOWN FUNK!!! 🎶

  2. Molly Forrest says:

    Just this very minute-ish finished your book (1 a.m.) & of course, had to check the facetube before falling asleep & here you are again! Yay! While I loved every word of the new book, I could relate most to your sunburn woes. Oh, if I could go back & tell my 1980’s self one thing it would be to “Get over it. Blonde, blue-eyed girls with milky white skin will never tan.” But, alas, I learn things the hardest of ways. So many, many miserable days fried to a crisp. I could so relate! If you’re ever in KY & want to sit under a big ‘ole umbrella in the sun with another milky white sister, come on!!!

  3. What a suh-weet story! I would have bawled when I saw my teachers! I read that part to my hubby and we both said AWWW! That is so cool. I am so excited for you over these book signings and I realized yesterday when a dear friend called that you may share some of the same people as she does in Jackson! Cannot wait for her to read that book and tell me. And 3 of my very favorite people in the world EVER live in Jackson~whilst serving one of the local Baptist churches so again, the full circle thingie! Have a great time!

  4. I love Uptown Funk!!

  5. Jeannette says:

    wishing you the best of REM and all the other tucked aside memories to you today. Certain foods also bring back happy memories. Whenever, I go home I drive by all my old homes and daydream about living there again. Now, thirty years later, I also go to the cemetary and visit family and friends tombstones and recall funny stories. It is like they are visiting with me. (this might not really be something that I should have shared)

  6. Thank you for coming to Jackson —- I’ll be there today! Can’t wait!

  7. Robin in Meridian says:

    LOVED meeting you in person yesterday! Was laughing so hard last night as I was reading about y’all laughing in church! (when you said it was NOT the Holy Spirit!) Have those exact memories growing up! Can’t wait to continue reading today! Thanking God for FINALLY bringing YOU and your blog into my life at a time when I really need some “pick me ups” in my days!!! And what better way than with a hometown girl! May God CONTINUE to bless you as you share your precious life and talents with others! P.S. Martha’s Rocky Road Brownies are THE BEST!!!!

  8. I’m so sad I can’t make it over to Jackson tonight. There is no way I’d be there in time after work. BUT, I will get my book signed, at some point. Like when you come to Vicksburg for the Miss MS pageant!!!!!! I’m about halfway done with this book and I have literally laughed out loud quite a few times. I loved the first one but this one is even better!

    Thanks for sharing your life with us. I love your writing style!

  9. “I,,,Humpback-Humpback…I” That’s how I learned to spell “M I Crooked letter, Crooked letter, I Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, I Humpback Humpback I” too! Just got your new Book in the mail and can’t decide to read it tonight or save it for the weekend…can’t wait! It seems DAILY now I read pages 178, 179, 180…and a piece of 181 of “Salty/Sweet to get me through a prayer thing…usually involving my child and his growing up challenges…and now I don’t know how I got through each day without having those words to read. Thank you…Thank you.

  10. I have started your new book. I am right at the part where you peed your pants standing in the road—hahahahaha! I am thoroughly enjoying it. I happened to tune in and see your first one could be downloaded for free so I read that one first. Have a wonderful book tour!

  11. I just finished reading your second book and loved it as much as the first. I wish you could come up north to Des Moines ,Iowa or Omaha, Nebraska on a book tour. Our high temp today was 14 with a wind chill around zero so you might want to make in July when we have Mississippi weather!

  12. i just finished your new book and I loved it!! Plus I listened to the Big Boo cast most recent pod cast today while I was running so I am almost satisfied! I can’t tell you all the funny ways I am prompted to think of you on a daily basis from home decor confidence to “love will find a way” by Amy Grant popping up on my playlist out of nowhere!! Be assured that you and your heart and your wit are a gift! Thank you!