All flow is in one direction, a single purpose, we move toward stories and fun, footsteps rapid we are like letters streaming from fluid ink across thirsty parchment.
Feel our common intent.
My heart flutters--what will it be like?
Location unknown, grounds unfamiliar to my feet, and yet I hurry so as not to miss even a single moment.
Turn a corner, really a curve that is gentle and easy to navigate, and see a hive of activity with colors and textures clamoring for attention more loud than even the voices of swelling crowds.
This edge is only the beginning.
Shoulders bump and bodies collide.
Some hurry while others meander creating ripples among the flow.
A carnival celebrating words and stories.
I smell the kettle corn and my mouth waters with desire, filling with juices.
Balloons bob and weave as they are tugged along by eager children being themselves towed by book-loving parents.
The chaos, or what seems that way, is exciting yet overwhelming as I read signs and trace my finger along lines of a map.
Where is it?
A bump from the side and I lose my place.
I continue, a slightly impatient air arises within as I feel my body tense. Release it.
Blocked ahead, go the other way, wind around and back again as a stroller nearly runs over my exposed toes. A close call.
My gaze latches onto an arrow pointing to the large brick building to my left that is the destination I've been seeking.
So close yet it seems to take forever to part the wide river of people in order to turn and swim in a cross-wise direction to the primary flow.
And finally, I arrive, plopping down on an auditorium seat in a moderately sized lecture hall; the perfect size, I thought, except that, as I watch the last few minutes tick away before the presentation begins, people are turned away at the door.
Seating full. No more room. "I'm sorry ... fire codes ..." I hear only bits of conversation, the soft but firm voices of volunteers as they transform into sentries.
And that becomes the pattern for these two days, class after class.
No time to wait in long food lines though as an amazing class could be missed.
People scurry in and out of bathrooms faster than I've ever seen!
Thankfully, the majority of people seem to be here for the tents housing books for sale in all genre, or simply to soak up the atmosphere of a festival on these bright, warm days so normal here yet still a wonder to any recent transplants like me.
A rare opportunity to hear so much great experience, advice and wisdom coming directly from the voices of authors who have traveled the writer's path and had their work recognized.
In every class, there is near-silence until Q&A at the end.
I can feel myself, along with everyone else, leaning forward with attentive energy if not actual body.
Well-known authors mingle with first-book novices and the joy of stories is a bubble enveloping the entire campus this day.
I am grateful for the event and the timing; the joy of immersion in activities so precious--writing and reading--helping to ease the past week's grief.
Yet it is neither escape or distraction from loss but rather filling each moment with presence and content that is an expression of life in another one of its many aspects.
The Fourth Annual Tucson Festival of Books, over 100,000 attending last year, was held on the University of Arizona campus (the photo is of the building called Old Main). All the presentations were free (as was parking which was great). If you are a writer or avid reader, go HERE for my notes on the authors and classes/presentations that I attended; they were amazing.