My Current Book Fetish
Because it is no fun going straight to the reveal, let me unravel the events of the evening. The location is breathtaking, sigh. The company is delightful. The harvest of plants, art, and antiques are abundant and ripe for the gathering. These things are true. However, as with any good book, there is more than what the cover image exposes once you get inside.
Let's go, shall we?
Location: New York Botanical Garden
Event: NYBG's 2018 Garden Art and Antiques Fair
Date: May 3, 2018
It's 90 degrees, unseasonably warm for May in New York City.
Evening whispers, "I'll bring cooler temperatures, but not for another hour or two."
In a less than obvious display of childlike anticipation, my feet click along the sidewalk. This adventure is happening. I am approaching the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), for the first time. Why haven't I been here before? I love not only flowers and trees, but gardening as well. It makes no sense.
Leeann knows the way. The NYBG is her turf. I am her guest this evening. She brings me to the most interesting, inspiring events.
Along the walk, we attract two nearly lost, undoubtedly direction seekers. They are in close tow. We turn the corner, and his shoe grabs the curb. There go the handmade, bulleted loafers. We continue walking. The closer we get, we feed into a field of colorful people.
We are at the entrance. Why stop now? The evening is young.
We go inside.
Leeann and I dart left, in a beeline for the bar. Why not? It's hot, sultry but not oppressive.
The bartender asks me, "What'll it be?"
"I'll have tonic water, over ice, with a twist of lemon," I say.
My Irish heritage and crimson red face agree. I do not need alcohol.
Shock falls over me, much like chill bumps, the ones that accompany fright. Why am I afraid? Is it my nerves? I hear Martha Stewart is here.
In no time at all, we are mingling.
The plants, potted artfully, bring an organic, light, and airy atmosphere. Myriad antiques, weighted by their history and expense, reveal as visual delights.
The guests, dressed in floral prints, bright colors, and sparkling accessories move about the space like elegant butterflies. As if lighting here and there, and all the while remaining poised. Smiles radiate with proof of universal adoration, an immeasurable love of all things botanical. Electricity is in the air, looping from plants to people.
I pause. Inhale. Exhale. I glance over and notice a server passing a glass of champagne to a guest. Our eyes meet, for a moment. She knows. I am quickly a botanical garden newbie. I feel welcome yet particularly noticeable, like a daisy in a field of peonies.
Leeann moves through colleagues with symmetry and ease. She is inquisitive with questions and quick with responses. Gathering cards and penciling notes, logging fodder for a feature, she is a pro.
From one display arena to the next, disappointment does not have a ticket to this event.
We turn the corner. I spy two empty chairs per table awaiting their respective authors. Several book signings are on the schedule of events for the evening.
I lean in and whisper, "Will she be here, Leeann?"
I feel my face flushing, once again. Did I say it is hot in here? My eager eyes move around the room. Trying not to appear obvious, I am looking for her. I don't want to miss the opportunity.
Although I do not see her, I spy stacks of beautiful books on display. Not just her book, but also several others. All are beauties. I'll admit. I have a book fetish. There's something about holding one. Right? The hours of research, attentiveness to particulars, creative thoughts, and factual details are something to appreciate. Not omitting the feel of paper pages moving under fingers. My affections for the craft go on and on.
It happens! I see her.
She is sitting, at the front table, alongside the book's co-author. Folks casually wait, one behind the other, for their signatures. I try to notice if they speak with the authors. Monitoring the amount of time they remain before, during, and after acquiring their autograph(s) and book(s). Observation is an essential gauge of proper behavior at times like this. I well know my sometimes awkwardness experiences rapid growth spurts, at the most inappropriate times. My nervousness builds. I fear my monstrous appreciation for her accomplishments will squash my opportunity for personal interaction. The result being the socially awkward fifty-three-year-old woman wearing braces will likely petrify in her presence. It's true. I admire her talent, determination, and 'watermark' which, in one way or another, touches so many of us and have for years. In short, I am a huge fan.
We fall into line, casually. Like it is nothing particularly unusual or unordinary. My arms lower, hug my sides; while my hands cross in a clasp resting on my thighs. I take a deep breath and exhale. Leeann shares information regarding plants and garden decor. She is a veritable dictionary of all things, which are garden chic. The conversation helps distract me. I avert my eyes away from Leeann, ever so briefly, to verify our proximity to the goal. We are close.
The assistant passes Leeann a sticky note pad and directs her to write the name of the person she would like addressed in the autograph. Leeann begins her task. I patiently wait for my turn.
I am next.
Considering that I wish to have two books, one for my daughter and one for me, I follow the same instructions. Knowing that Martha loves using sticky notes for so many things, I smile as I put pen to paper. The assistant places my books on the deck, next in line.
It is my turn.
This experience is going fast, too fast. I don't see my book move through anyone's hands. I miss it completely. What am I doing, counting my daisy petals? He loves me. He loves me not. Hardly. I am lost in the human moments moving before me like a flicker show without the flick, flick, and flick. I hear neither the hum of the roaring fans nor the prattle of passersby. It is all white noise. These moments become the past before it happens and right before my eyes. Quickly, I gather myself and pull up my phone for a quick shot of my daughter's book while it's in her hands. Whew, happy to have proof.
"Are you Kandice?" Martha asks.
"She's my daughter," I respond.
Martha smiles and continues writing. I am speechless.
After a brief pause, I say, "Thanks so much for the autograph. I appreciate it."
And then it happens, or dare I admit nothing happens because I am well ... speechless. Nothingness sprinkles from my lips as an eloquent delivery of absent conversation. Although I plan on sharing a few snippets of my appreciation for all the things she has taught me throughout the past twenty plus years. I don't. I pause.
"May I have a photograph with you?" I ask.
I have absolutely no idea how that manages to surface. My face must appear as if I belch in the presence of Martha Stewart. It feels like it. I am blushing, and not in the dainty, barely noticeable fashion.
She glances up, smiles, and says, "Yes."
Around the table, I go! I cannot recall getting back there either, an automatic impulse I suppose. Good thing. Otherwise, I may still be standing in the same spot right this moment. A single daisy remaining, after the peony harvest. Oh, I can laugh now. And I often do, just not that evening.
Leeann snaps the picture, and my heart is full, bursting even. I make a joke about the picture and me having braces. I have no idea how those words surface either. Martha hears, turns my way, and comments that it's all good and I should smile. I wish that I could recall her exact words, considerate and comforting.
It's not over yet, smiling.
This story is popcorn worthy. I am doing it again, the laughing aloud. My family knows. By now, my dog knows. They hear me, from time-to-time, the giggles, the snorts. I continue to type. Why is this so funny now, but invigoratingly debilitating at the time? One thing is for sure it is anything but boring. It becomes an adventure of determination and bravery, as the evening progresses.
I dash away, or so it seems. I weave through the peonies, reach the line, and join Leeann. Within minutes we pay for our treasures and resume browsing. The afterglow of such an ordinary happening that is nothing short of extraordinary to me is magical.
We dart over to the bar and each order a glass of champagne and toast this fantastic experience.
We smile and say, "Cheers!"
I text my husband and give him the news. He gives me congratulations and praise. Knowing meeting Martha is on my bucket list, he understands my excitement.
He then says, "Did you give her one of your cards?"
My eyes fall, which immediately brings the corners of my mouth along for the ride. It's downhill from here.
I say, "I did not. I was too nervous."
He does not ask why or say anything negative. He knows how much thought goes into placing the card in my iPhone case the night before. It should be easy for me to retrieve at the perfect moment, I say as we plan. As well, he knows that I could not select a card to offer Martha. My daughter chose the one with the image she believes Martha would like most.
He merely responds, "Okay."
Leeann and I walk a little farther, and I digest the experience. What is happening here?
I am not a quitter. Nor am I giving up before giving it everything I can.
If I do not give her a card, it is an automatic loss, a forfeit by the home team. This entire experience becomes a disappointment. An opportunity to share my art with such a creative human lost. Only vanishing because I am shy. At this very point of the evening, I am not just the daisy but also the daisy that is curling downward with wilting petals.
If I do give her the card and she tosses it, at least I know I try. I can live with this scenario.
And there is always the consideration of an alternate ending. What if Martha Stewart keeps my card? What if she tucks it away, pulls it out one day, and emails or calls me? It can happen. I hear of occurrences where similar fairytale events take place.
I ask Leeann, "Can we go back? Would it be okay if I offer her one of my cards?"
She says, "Of course. Let's go now."
We go back.
The line moves quickly. Martha and Kevin must be curious, on my second approach. How could they not be? What are they thinking, more books? Perhaps it is more along the lines of this is going to be entertaining? Only they know, which I feel sure is best, at this point. My mind is filling with all sorts of peculiar options and none of which include the first thing that I hear.
Kevin says, "You came back. Good to see you, again!"
He is so kind, just as earlier. I can still see his accepting expression.
Martha smiles and looks right at me, square in the eyes. This is it, the moment. Can I bring my card forward? It seems like such an easy thing to do, but it is not.
I can see this unwrapping like layers of paper covering one package, which is inside the next, and so on. My business card is at the center. Will it ever reach the surface? It seems an excessive amount of tape is holding the edges of the floral paper in place, the sticky kind of tape that is old and removes the pretty part of the paper design leaving behind the dull, rough white layer.
I say, "May I share my business card with you, Martha?"
Leeann steps forward to toss me a life preserver and says, "Angie is a storytelling photographer and her art is a mixture of photography, illustration, and soulful expressions. It's unique. She has a current magazine cover in print."
I love her for this and so many other reasons. She has a generous heart.
Martha nods and takes a closer look at the card, then flips it over.
Is this happening?
I say, "Thank you for accepting my card. I appreciate it."
Martha responds, "Very nice."
I am backing away, smiling so BIG that my I am unsure how my braces do not blind the onlookers. Leeann snaps the picture, proof that this is happening.
With her right hand, she pulls her purse from under the table. She unzips the front compartment and places my card inside. She then zips it closed and returns the purse to safekeeping.
It is true. My card went home with Martha Stewart. What a sweet reward for returning.
Will anything more evolve from this encounter? I am unsure. But one thing is sure. I am a forever hopeful human. Perhaps it is true. I am a little late in life seeking the things that matter most to my creative heart. However, it is better to be late than never.
By the end of the day, I learn that it is more than okay to be the daisy standing in a field of peonies. It is a concern upon arrival for me, a self-conscious observation. Now, upon exiting, it is not. There is room for all varieties of plantings, in this bountiful garden, here on Earth. Those gardeners with ample bravery to sew seeds in hopes of cultivating a new experience reap the rewards of extraordinary opportunities. These are the harvests, which surround, move through and sustain our creative existence.
Now, I wait with a hopeful heart and open mind. Perhaps my nervous hands will harvest a new, fresh, and artful adventure in the future.
There is always hope.
With all my best regards and in kindness,
I am sharing the link, in the event you want to purchase a copy of Martha's Flowers. You will love it!
Here are few iPhone images, from the evening, as well.
Keywords: angie lambert, angie lambert blog, angie lambert photography, angie lambert storyteller, angie lambert writer, be brave, book fetish, explore nyc, floral inspiration, flower power, garden story, gardening, kevin sharkey, martha stewart, martha's flowers, marthasflowers, meeting martha stewart, nybg, nybg 2018 garden art and antique fair, peonies
This was delightful from start to finish. You see the world through the eyes of an artist and a poet, an angel and an innocent!
Good for you!! To be brave and go back, I would have done the first part, probably in the same way, but I am less hopeful that I would go back the second time, too scary! We all need a friend like Leeann. I bet your braces actually helped you to stand out :)
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