Tonight was probably one of the best nights I’ve had since I moved to Australia almost a year ago. It’s also been one of the most relaxing nights I’ve had since starting university again, and it’s been one of the few times where I’ve been able to laugh and feel like myself in the past couple months. I cannot tell you what that means to me; there is no price that can be put on that. I can only say that I’m immensely happy with everything that happened today.
First, I’m not going to call it the “best night ever.” I reserve that for the night that my best friend of nearly nine years and I decided that we’d rather be together even though we’re still in two separate countries. We’re just glad that it’s two nearby countries instead of me being in America, like I originally was. Despite the happiness I felt that night (and still feel every subsequent day, even during those moments when I’m somewhat grumpy or frustrated with life), that’s not what this is about. That story is for another time.
This is about a combination of wonderful friends and the chance I had to meet one of the people I admire.
There is something comforting about spending an entire evening with two people who you love and enjoy spending time with. It is difficult to find anything better than being able to go out to dinner, chatting about random nonsense and just having a brilliant time with people you care about. Babbling at each other over coffee (or an iced green tea latte, in my case), discussing places you love and things you want to learn. Or perhaps just having fun walking to the City Recital Hall at Angel Place, knowing that you’re about to watch the one person who initially brought you all together.
Tonight was so important for me. On the most basic level, I can squeal and fangirl and be excessively happy that I was able to watch Neil Gaiman perform two of his currently unreleased books (The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Fortunately the Milk). I was given the chance to hear four exceptionally talented strings players (FourPlay) create music and sound effects that made one of his stories come to life in the most beautiful of ways. I was lucky enough to receive a signed copy of the first three chapters of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Even more wonderfully, my friend and I were able to ask him for pictures. And being as awesome as he is, Neil indulged us in our request.
But it was this event that brought the two of us closer and sealed our friendship even more. Two girls from two different American continents who both grew up speaking two very different languages – but somehow managed to find their separate ways to Sydney – were able to share an experience together, and it was something quite special. We saw someone who we both grew up with, whose work was both important to us because of the themes involved but also because it was another learning experience entirely. It’s also stayed with us as we’ve entered adulthood, some of it reminding us that we can still enjoy something “written for kids” because we’re really all just big children on the inside. Or even the constant reminder that, if we try hard enough, we can do something we love and enjoy and be happy doing it.
And much like the child in the first three chapters of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the works he created were very much those “safe havens.” They were some of the books that we felt were safer than people, but they were also the same books that inadvertently showed us which people may actually be the “safe people.” Like many things people grow up loving, they were like a signal to us for who might be a good choice to put our trust and faith in. Especially those of us who were scared to do so and have spent a lot of time growing out of that habit, trying to let people in.
I know that when I asked Neil for a picture, I had very little to say. Not only was it late and everyone involved appeared to be somewhat tired, but I was still sort of in mild awe. I had no words, I had nothing to say. I was still processing what I saw, and I also wanted to tell FourPlay that they played so incredibly beautifully. It took me until the moment my friend and I got on the bus to realise that I don’t think I even said thank you or appropriately showed my gratitude for the time he’d taken to even give us a few pictures, which immediately made me feel like a bit of a rude twit. Maybe even a bit stereotypically American.
So I hope that maybe this finds its way to Neil and he can appropriately be thanked for the time he took out for us. His show was magnificent in so many ways that I cannot even recount them all, and my heart melted a little when he answered “Why did you marry Amanda Palmer?” during his Q&A. And I adored that he looked straight up at my section and waved hello to us, even though I was fidgeting like a small child and may’ve seemed to be awkwardly crawling through the third-floor railing to get a better look at everything happening on the stage below.
I also sincerely hope that he tumbles pictures/scans of three of the other questions when he has time. Partially because I’m curious to see the Cyberman that was drawn on one, but partially because two of the other questions were hilariously wonderful (American Gods anagram and duck-sized horses). Even if he doesn’t, I’ll still remember those. Things like that make me love people and the world more; in some odd way, they give me hope.
[Cross-posted on c.apricio.us.]
Note: I have my friend’s picture, too. However, I’m impatient and still wish for her to tell me whether or not she’d want it posted outside of her Facebook.