I set up a book signing in Florida. Well, actually I didn't set it up. I have this funny childhood friend and he set it up. He went to a lot of trouble for me, so I drove for four days with my family to go and set up a puppet show/chess lesson using lots of animal chess openings for the kids in Orlando. My husband put on a gorilla suit. I know, I know, it was worth it because we sold five books. That's five! It would have been six had the Orlando Public Library purchased a copy.
But it really was worth it!
You see, we drove through Atlanta, and I decided that I would finally do something I'd been wanting to do since I was nine years old. Find Tara!
We stopped in a gas station somewhere in Kentucky the night before. I told my husband that above all things I wanted to find it. And when my daughter, Tara, found out what I was looking for, she said she wanted to find it too. I pulled out my worn out copy of Gone With The Wind and started looking through chapter one, thinking I would have to put together many complex clues.
"Well," I said, "It's not hard. It's about five miles south of Jonesboro, right near the Flint river."
Suddenly it began to dawn on me what I was looking for. It would have to be night when I found it. I would have to be soaked from the rain, stand near my horse and cry on that horse's neck after being abandoned on my road home, with a crying baby and a sick woman and simple minded "Prissy." I would feel that I had never been so alone in all my life. I would be exhausted, hungry, and relieved to find it still standing.
Well, obviously I wasn't going to find it. It wouldn't be "still there." In fact, I was informed by the tour guide of "Stately Oaks" that the Fitzgerald house, probably the house closest to being the real "Tara" had been torn down and replaced by a used car lot. The antebellum home we were touring, she told me, was the one Margeret Mitchell passed every time she walked to see her grandparents. It was on Tara street.
I handled it ok. I realized Tara could only be found in the pages, and in my mind. And my daughter jumped up and down pointing at every street sign, hotel name, banks, taverns, all named Tara!
And as for me, I realized my Tara was probably the chess set I had in my car. I pulled it out later in our hotel room and studied extra hard. I have no land to fight for. So for me, the thing worth fighting for, worth dying for?
My chess game.