I'm moody today. I'll tell you why. Because I'm at the American Library Association's annual conference in New Orleans, which happens every year around this time. Last year it was in Washington DC. And I had found out I was pregnant about 10 days beforehand. I was trudging to the Safeway near the convention center to get Good Food since there was a little life inside of me, and was thus avoiding Convention Center Food, which basically sucks all around. I was still all excited. Reading the What To Expect When You're Expecting book, highlighter in hand, post-it stickies marking every relevant page. Thinking about how the next year, we'd all drive to ALA because we'd have a 4 month old, and I've been on enough flights with 4-month-olds that I wouldn't want to inflict that on anyone. Stupid planning. Stupid What to Expect book. They don't tell you to expect that your heart is going to be literally torn apart. They don't tell you to expect to have emotional mood swings even 8 months later. They don't tell you that you'll burst into tears doing the most mundane stuff like picking out raspberries in the grocery store. They don't tell you crap. Everybody knows to expect morning sickness. Duh.
In addition to the fact that, since last year I have lost two, count 'em, two babies, I'm also reminded of my friend Jim Buescher. Jim Buescher was my bestest friend from the time I was about 12. He went to a different school - Penn Manor whilst I went to Pequea Valley - but we met in drama classes at the Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster (a mysterious place which, to a country bumpkin like me, was brimming with sophisticated things like coffee houses called The Monks Tunic, and convenience stores you could walk to. Imagine that. Walking! Like on a sidewalk! Slurping your slusheee. Amazing!).
My name then was Heather Buettner and he was Jim Buescher, so we were only separated by a very few letters in the alphabet. He was worldly and knew all about Paul Simon's albums post-Garfunkel and pre-Graceland (when he wrote deeply poetic songs like "When Numbers Get Serious" and before he became a plastic surgery disaster). After the SAT's one Saturday afternoon we were driving along a back country road and he started driving in the oncoming lane and saying, "Look! We're in England!" And he taught me how to say a French phrase, which, roughly translated meant: "I like to frolic with gay soldiers in New Orleans." Only he didn't tell me what it meant, and I wandered all around the French-speaking part of Switzerland on a choir trip one summer thinking I was asking people where the bathrooms were.
Anyway, I'm in New Orleans now for the first time (which, coincidentally, got me the jetsetters badge on 4square today, thank you very much) and Jim Buescher is...wait for it...passed on. Like my (count-'em) two babies. He died in a car accident last summer. I found out about it while I was at an OB appointment. That's some dramatic foreshadowing if I've ever seen any.
So here I am in New Orleans and I want so desperately to call him up and say, "J'aime jouer avec les soldats gais à la Nouvelle-Orléans" only he's not there. And I want so desperately to hold my baby boy, only he's not here. In a town that's been descended upon by 25,000 librarians, you'd think somebody would effing be here. But nope. Nobody's here. It's a ghost town.
I've gotta go to bed. Oh, and I'm sick, too. To the couple who sat next to me on the plane from Vegas: sorry for all the hacking, folks. I hope you had purell handy. I tried not to breathe on you.
I'm gonna go cry my little shrinking self to sleep now. Cue tiny violins.