In exactly one week, they will all know my business. I don't know why I find it so unsettling. It's not as if I haven't been honest, forthright and public in the past. It's just that this time I am shedding light right at my doorstep. Perhaps I have lived in false anonymity all this time.
On next Thursday, I am conducting my first public book signing near Munich, Germany. When I first arrived in Germany in 2003, I had done a presentation for my new-found friends in our little town. Impartial and eager for connection, I invited a group of women to listen to my stories of life and babies. They thought it was a fun event to which they could bring cookies and Thermos containers. I translated some of the chapters, then sold the copies in English.
English. A language I can hide in. The language I use with my children at home. It is my linguistic country, the place my heart truly resides. Living in Germany amongst a foreign mentality provides a plethora of material. After publishing Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff , I caught the writing bug and finished another manuscript within months. The result was SAHM I Am: Tales of a Stay-at-Home Mom in Europe . Safe again to promote the book from afar, I held off for 18 months before I could no longer hide behind the safety net of "They don't really understand me..." The book was translated into German and brought to market in November.
This leads me back to my first concern. The book, a collection of short stories about my life in this small Bavarian town, will be broadcast in all the ladies' circles you can imagine. No matter where I went yesterday (the hair dressers, the library, the bank) people approached me with a wink.
"Saw your picture in the paper. I'll see you on Thursday!"
With soaked palms, I dashed to my minivan and raced home. What have I done? Everyone is going to read my stories. Even worse. They will think they know me, but don't.
It's one thing to have people laugh at a story to which they can relate. It's an entirely different matter to have them laugh directly at the person it's about. Perhaps my regret comes from knowing everyone will indeed see themselves in the book as told through my voice. But they won't admit it and will use it to push themselves up, and push me beyond the sewage line to Middle Earth.