When I last left you, Maura and I had just arrived at the bookstore and had spotted Wil preparing for the reading. I'm going to skip past our arrival in the special event area of the bookstore, to the moment when Wil takes the stage.
When Wil first stepped up to the microphone I believe he was a little taken aback by the size of the crowd (definitely over 100 people) but he adjusted quickly and started to give a bit of background as to the evolution of his book. He spoke of his blog and how he turned some of the stories he had written into Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek. It was then time to launch into his reading from of the chapter called SpongeBobVega$ Pants (my favorite). He chose that chapter because it best represented the major turning point of his life and the main theme of the book.
Now, when I say that Wil read from his book I am really doing him an injustice. Wil didn't just read; he performed. It was a performance that came from a very real place and, even though I had read the story before, I felt like I was hearing it for the first time. Wil brought it to life in a way that only the person who has been through the experience can and he left me feeling as if I had been there with him at the time the events occurred. It was obvious Wil had the crowd in the palm of his hand when he suggested doing a second reading and the room erupted in thunderous applause at the suggestion. His second reading was also from SpongeBobVega$ Pants and this was when I started to figure out what that "something" I had seen in his eyes earlier that evening was.
During the course of the reading Wil had mentioned how he was "silly in love" with his wife and couldn't believe how lucky he was to have her and her amazing children in his life. About the second time he mentioned it was when everything clicked. Wil is an incredibly happy person and that happiness is what I saw sparkling in his eyes. His book represents his journey to get to that place where he is happy with his life and can accept the cards he is being dealt even if they don't quite turn out the way he wants or expects. In the back of my mind I knew this but to witness it is another thing entirely and I truly wish you could have all been a part of it. It was an unforgettable learning experience and I want to thank Wil for taking time out of his life to give me a glimpse of what I can only hope to find as I continue on my own journey.
I suppose you are all wondering what I said to Wil as he signed my book. Luckily I didn't have to remember my name as the bookstore manager wrote it on a little post-it and stuck it to the page Wil was going to sign. The manager had called my friends, my "entourage", and I remember that being mentioned to Wil. He asked me what it was like to have an entourage and nothing cleaver or witty came to mind until the train ride home. Next thing I knew I was posing for a picture that I hope will never be seen (damn nervous facial twitch) and my time was up. Dinner at the Cheesecake Factory followed and I was home by 2 a.m.
Maura will be posting her experience as well, so please check her blog for another view of the event.
UPDATE: Maura's post is up and comes complete with pictures! (Not of me because she values her life but nice photos of Wil.)