Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Spent The Night With E. Lynn Harris

OMG - we finally got a visit from E Lynn Harris to the Valley of the Sun last month. The E Lynn Harris. My all-time favorite author was going to be here in my town. There was no way I was going to miss seeing him so I left from work and sped across town (it was no short distance) so I could attend his booksigning. And get this - it was raining cats and dogs on the night he was here. I mean seriously - we get rain in Phoenix probably two nights out of the year and the shower decides to come on the night E (were that close now I can just call him E) was here.

So I'm flying down the freeway dodging the police because I'm not missing my opportunity to meet the man whose book, Invisible Life, changed my life. E was holding his booksigning at the Barnes & Nobles at Desert Ridge Mall. Now I've been to this mall once and that was about 5 years ago - so I really don't remember much about it. I pull into the parking lot and slowly drive through looking for the bookstore. You can only imagine my dismay when I don't see a Barnes & Nobles anywhere in sight. So I decide - it's just a mall, park the car and go in. Now remember it's raining in buckets (and who the hell in Phoenix carries an umbrella in there car). So I'm totally soaked by the time I reach the sidewalk.
The first person I see is mall security watching the downpour (rain in Phoenix is like a spectator sport - it doesn't come often so when we get it people just stare). I ask for the location of Barnes & Nobles and he say's its on the other side of the mall. Probably wouldn't be a big deal at any other mall - but I failed to remember that Desert Ridge is an uncovered mall. So I trek down the path security pointed out for me and I continue to get soaked.

I finally find Barnes & Nobles and the store looks empty. My heart drops. The booksigning was scheduled to start at 6:00 and it is now 6:40. I'm really late. My mind is racing - maybe its over already, maybe he cancelled because of the weather, why does life suck so much.

I'm dripping wet as I make my way to the cashier. Then I notice tons of different E. Lynn Harris books displayed on the counter. I'm hesitant to ask because I may not want the answer, "Where is the E. Lynn Harris booksigning happening?" The clerk smiles at me and points as she says, "He's in the center of the store, right on the other side those shelves."

Thats when I had my exhale moment. I hadn't missed him. He was still in the store. I grabbed my copy of his latest book from the counter and purchased it and headed in the direction she told me. I stopped and peaked around the corner just to make sure it was really him. IT WAS. Oh my God. It's E. Lynn Harris. IT'S E LYNN HARRIS. I've never been this excited meeting a celebrity before. But I can't walk up to this man acting crazy. I need to calm down before I make my entrance. So I take a deep breath and silently do my calming mantra - "get it together Chante, get it together."

Turns out it wasn't needed. E had just finished his question and answer session when I entered. He was now signing books and taking photos with anyone interested. And I must admit - he was genuinely nice. He was taking his time and personalizing all autographs. And he was posing with anyone that wanted a picture with him. Well you know I was one of those people. But remember - I'm dripping wet. E didn't care. He threw his arm around anyway and smiled and cheesed for the camera. So my love for E. Lynn Harris has grown even more - if that's possible.

I'm sincere when I say Invisible Life was life changing for me. Growing up in the rural South I didn't know it was okay to be gay, black and out. I thought at any given moment you could only be two of the three. My reality was limited only to what I had seen. Then I read E. Lynn Harris and my eyes were opened.

I just want to close by saying thank you to E . Lynn Harris. Thank you for writing great books. Thank you for telling the stories of black gay men - there are people that want and need to hear these. And thank you for being a tremendous host to your fans. You continue to inspire.

1 comment:

Sully said...

Jason what a great opportunity. E. is one of my favorite authors. As a poet and aspiring writer myself I would have had fit just to lay eyes on the man i have the utmost admiration for.. SK