This summer has been a whirlwind. During the last ten weeks we’ve only been home for ten days. It’s been wonderful, all this time spent with extended family, but I’m feeling untethered, a little disoriented. Right now, in fact, I’m up in Leo’s room on Sunday night, and he is sucking his thumb and drifting off, and the window air conditioning unit is humming along, and Sam has already fallen asleep in the top bunk. I think Maile’s reading to Poppy and everyone else is in their rooms, also reading. It’s so good to be home.
We’ve been reevaluating technology in our house, how often we use it, how much access our children have. These are such personal decisions, the kind that have to be made by each and every family, but let me just say this: we have found so much freedom in ditching the screens as much as possible. (So much of this is due to conversations we’ve had with my sister and brother-in-law.) When we left for the mountains a week ago, we asked them to leave all of their electronic devices at home. The ride to the cabin was…slightly magical. The older kids chatted and laughed. We had mini-dance parties whenever a good song came on, because we were all listening to the same music. We had a deep conversation about Michael Jackson that lasted at least 30 minutes. The kids spoke with each other.
When we were nearly there, Maile asked them how it felt, going on a two-hour car ride without any screens.
One of the older kids said, without hesitating, “Freedom.” Another one said in a hesitant voice, “It kind of feels like we’re a family again.”
* * * * *
And of course this was the summer of the book release, with my newest book, The Edge of Over There, coming out on July 3rd. Book releases are so much fun and so exhilarating and completely strange in that, because of all the work that goes into a book, I usually expect the world to stop and acknowledge its birth, but of course the world doesn’t stop, and so I’m left feeling a little empty and maybe a little discombobulated but also very proud and thrilled and hopeful.
Writing is such a strange endeavor. Telling stories in this particular age is a remarkable thing. I’m so happy I get to do this work.
* * * * *
And even after all of this, the summer keeps going. I’ve got upcoming stops where I hope to see some of you in real life. Here’s what’s currently on the schedule:
Book release party! You’re all invited to our house (41 W James St.) on Sunday, August 5th at 3pm for snacks and a relaxing time to hang out. I’ll read a bit from the book and have signed books there for folks to purchase if they’d like. Please RSVP by messaging me or at the Event page on Facebook.
Art House North with Steve Wiens! This event in Saint Paul, Minnesota is going to be amazing. Join me and Steve Wiens for a night of storytelling, song, and a chance to be a part of a live recording of his podcast, This Good Word. We’ll be joined by musical guests Steve and Heidi Haines, who will be sharing songs from their soon-to-be-released album. Get your tickets HERE.
The Great Frederick Fair! As we have done for the last 60 years or so, my family will have our food tent set up at the Frederick Fair in Frederick, Maryland. Come on by, say hello, and buy a book – I’ll have a bunch on sale there.
Breathe Writers Conference! I’ll be presenting at the Breathe Christian Writers’ conference in October. Get all the details here.
On October 20th, shortly after the release of my next book, Once We Were Strangers, I’ll be hosting an event at the amazing Hearts and Minds bookstore in Dallastown, PA! More details to come, but in the meantime, save the date.
* * * * *
But tonight I’m here, and outside, James Street is as busy as ever. Our 125-year-old American Sycamore growing out of the front walk is looking pretty pleased with herself, taller than our three-story house, shimmering green from all the recent rain. Dusky light glows in lines through the blinds in the boys’ room.
Here we go. Another week. Make space to do the things you love. Make time to see real people in person. Write a letter. Make amends. Listen.
In other words, live.