Happy Super Bowl Sunday, Taylor Swift in Japan Day, and International Day of Women and Girls in Science (however you celebrate – I don’t judge).
I’ve devoted far more brain matter than is appropriate to thinking about how much changed for me between 2022’s Texas Book Festival and 2023’s (back in November). In 2022, my latest book had just come out a few months prior, and while it was still having its moment in the sun, I didn’t feel like I was. I barely knew anyone in the local book scene, and I was only able to get a launch party at the same bookstore that had had me a decade before, when I was brand new to Austin.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to BookWoman for having me, but walking between the booths at the last TX Book Fest, it struck me how different of a place I was in. My book had gotten a modest number of good local reviews and I had inched my way into the local circle by showing up at events and forcing myself to talk to people (and buying their books… lots of them… I need shelf help). Instead of gawking at the lineup of authors and cautiously approaching booksellers, I was waving to them and chatting them up like old friends, because that’s what we’d become over the past year since my book came out – friends.
For most of the last eight years, I realized I’d been in my “mom friends” era. So much of my social life revolved around my kids (and let’s be real… a lot of it still does) and being on the board of Austin Parents of Multiples that those were the only circles I was regularly in. Not that I was particularly adept at making mom friends – it took a lot of awkward minivan and Costco talk at windowless room birthday parties to find my people. Before the twins started Kindergarten, I was squarely in a niche mom friends era in which I rarely interacted with any parents who didn’t own a double stroller.
Before that, it was the “college friends” era. Instead of pizza and cake and Urban Air birthday parties every weekend, it was weddings and bachelorette parties and housewarmings. I mostly dodged the bridesmaid bullet, largely due to avoiding the whole sorority thing. I somehow found time to hang out with my now-husband in sports bars between working full time and doing the world’s weirdest freelance writing gigs. (Okay now I know how – I didn’t have two tiny humans who relied on me to feed them and bathe them and put them to bed when I would normally be in a sports bar).
But NOW… my kids are older and a increasingly more self-reliant. I have a sliver of life outside of school pickup and twin stroller walks where we take up the sidewalk AND the bike lane. Are all my pants still Costco pants? Yes – because Costco is the best and waistbands are the wort. But most of my t-shirt repertoire is now bookstore and book festival finds.
This past weekend, I attended a much-needed Zibby Books Retreat after convincing myself A) It was an appropriate use of my Indie Author Project prize money (see previous blog post) and B) I had enough solo-attended book events under my belt that I wouldn’t feel too out of my element talking about books with a group of 60 strangers. We weren’t strangers for long. There’s something about a mutual love for books that instantly bonded me to these new book friends, and made me feel like I was my own person outside of my husband and kids. They also appreciated my strong bookstore t-shirt and Costco pants game.
Of course, I still have some long-lasting friendships from my college friends era. I still camp once a year with my twin mom era friends. I went to dinner and a show with my kids’ best friend’s mom last night. They are still my people. But when my next book comes out (TBD… don’t ask), I won’t be the outsider at the Texas Book Festival anymore. I’ll be surrounded by the book friends I’ve made and am still making in my book friends era, because they are now my people, too.