Three Takeaways from Life on the Road with ONE GOAL
1. Mother Nature Hates Soccer: Three storms, three weeks. The only thing I could do about it was laugh. Just a few days after the terrific launch for ONE GOAL at the end of February, a terrible storm hit, wiping out power for our neighborhood -- and so many others -- for eight days. After moving among hotel rooms and friends' houses, I left for upstate New York a day early because news of a second storm, a Nor'easter, started to crystalize. While I watched from the Cornell University campus, snow dumped on the already dark houses in and around New York City. The following week, another Nor'easter began to crystallize, but forecasters swore that the conditions would keep it offshore. I headed up to Maine, excited to bring the book to Lewiston. After great events at Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services and the Lewiston Public Library on Monday night, I sat with the Bates soccer coaches for breakfast the next morning as giant flakes began to fall.
The forecasters were wrong. Events at Lewiston Middle School had to be cancelled, and talks at Bates and the lovely Longfellow Bookstore in Portland were delayed by a day. "There might be another storm next week," Rob Caldwell of News Center Maine told me after my interview with "The 207". I laughed. But there was. I figured I'd be safe, as I was heading south to Pennsylvania. Nope. Thank goodness for the lovely folks at the Main Street Inn in Kutztown. Their hospitality -- alongside the history department folks from the University -- ensured my snowbound days were well spent. But enough: time for spring.
2. Old Friends, New Friends, Best Friends: At every stop along the way, friends came out to say hello, buy a book, and talk soccer. I was so touched to see an old friend from high school walk into my signing at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca. There was my friend who carted me around Boston for a day, from a radio gig to a television interview to a reading/signing. There was the friend who drove from New Hampshire to Plainville, Massachusetts to say hello, sitting alongside the dear friend from graduate school who drove quite a ways to have her books signed.
There was the friend who just had major surgery and dragged herself out on crutches to get to an event, her first foray outside since being laid up. There were students of mine, past and present, sitting in the front row (because they're good students) as well as colleagues, all there with ONE GOAL in hand. And then there are the new friends: librarians and bookshop owners and writers and readers. One of the most important themes of ONE GOAL is about community, and getting to see the book's community in action has been a wonderful thing.
3. Everyone Does Bleed Blue: When I brought the book up to Lewiston, the outpouring was amazing -- from the amazing folks at MEIRS to the coaches and players and families who came to the Lewiston Public Library event, standing room only, an overwhelming showing of
support. But it wasn't just in Lewiston. At the wonderful An Unlikely Story bookshop, a man stood up not with a question, but to say "thank you" for the book -- he played soccer for Lewiston back in the day, and still bled blue. "I kept thinking as I was reading, I wonder if she's going to mention this, and then you did, and then again, and you did, and so on -- I've never read a book faster." And then it happened at the next stop. And the next one. "Where are you next?" one white-haired Blue Devil asked. When I gave him the rest of the schedule, he said I'd see him again.
"We bleed blue and always will," says Warsame Ali at the end of ONE GOAL.