OK, perhaps one more post before I leave…
I was walking down the street this afternoon, on my way to pick up batteries and other last-minute sundries, when I ran into Jay Griffiths. In case you haven’t heard of her, she’s one of the most original, inspiring and intelligent writers alive and, through her book Wild, when I read it last summer, she’s not only changed and challenged my perceptions of the world, but also ended up being one of the inspirations behind my trip. (Not as directly as Alastair Humphreys, perhaps, but just as profoundly.)
I always meant to write and thank her, but I never did. How, when her ideas had sprung off the page at me like flames, could I possibly respond with a prosaic little thank you note? It would be at worst sycophantic, at best inadequate. I did know she lived in Mid Wales, and vaguely hoped our paths might cross at some point, but since I’m very rarely there (I visit my parents far too little – and now even less), it seemed highly unlikely we’d ever meet.
But now here she was, like a good omen, and I couldn’t resist. All my embarrassment evaporated the moment I tapped her on the shoulder and realized I was almost exactly like all the men who used to tap me on the shoulder in London and ask “erm, are you that thatmessengerchick chick?” It’s fine. It’s a little disconcerting to be recognized by a complete stranger, but it’s extremely flattering that they’ve bothered to stop you and say hello. And sometimes they say very nice things about your writing.
I said very nice things about her writing, and she blushed and demurred, just as I always do, and I told her about my trip, and she said very nice things about that, and I blushed and demurred in turn, and protested that this was all wrong, and I’d meant to flatter her.
And we swapped email addresses and went our separate ways. And I felt simultaneously that she was now presiding benevolently and symbolically over my imminent departure, and that I couldn’t possibly deify her any longer now that we’d had a chat and she’d turned out to be so human and approachable. Mind you, I am rapidly learning that the categories of ‘friend’ and ‘hero’ needn’t be mutually exclusive. In fact, I should think it’s probably healthier when they aren’t.
And now. Bed. Really.