The official launch party of my book Switching Teams went off without a hitch. Nearly a week has passed and this night easily ranks among my top ten favorite days of my entire life. The turnout was higher than I expected and everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves. The cake alone was quite a hit and a sat until a professional chef, who was a surprise guest, volunteered to be the one to cut up the piece of art it was in its own right. More about this mystery guest later. Overall, the evening was filled with many highlights as well as a few unexpected and fantastic surprises.
After spending a great deal of time preparing for this event I came to a few conclusions about future event planning. I can appreciate the need to hire a staff to take care of the many aspects of party planning, coordinating vendors and executing pre-launch marketing plans. A staff of reliable “people” never sounded so good as it did during the few days leading up to the event.
The reality of the situation was my wife and I, in fact, were the “people.” There was chuckling as we, meaning I, struggled to tie 3 inch pieces of nylon string to tags for the party bags. I must have commented at least six times about our need to have “people” to do this. My less than petite hands were pushed to their limits that day and were called upon only because she had just returned from the nail salon with a fresh manicure. Coincidence? I think not.
Realistically, I probably need to sell 100,000 more books before I begin to entertain the idea of procuring “people.” As much as we thought it would be enjoyable for someone else to handle the details, the reality is we would not have it any other way than for us to handle everything. The planning phase, although challenging at times, was one part of the whole and to miss out those moments would have felt disappointing.
I would love to brag and say that this was not a big deal and like any other day. I roll with most things but admit that I was a nervous wreck for three days leading up to it. I am unaccustomed to being front and center for big events. The purpose of this night was to bring attention and focus to a book, that I wrote, which was about my life. Double whammy! And heeere’s Dawn. The spotlight, well, the LED light from the video camera, literally was on me.
Fortunately, one of the unexpected surprises happened once I arrived and noticed feeling completely at peace. No nerves. At all. I was surrounded by my family and friends and met many new faces who made being there a priority on that day. I felt loved and the love and positive energy suffocated and crushed any of my fears or anxieties. It was beautiful. I was mindful of every conversation and present the entire evening.
I was also aware of those, who for many, many very good reasons, were not able to join us at the event. They may not have been there physically, but I still felt their love and spirit all around. I am excited to view the finished video from the launch party and looking forward to sharing the amazing moments from that night with the world.
Preserving and remaining in the moment was my goal and I succeeded for the most part. However, I forgot to prepare for the unexpected. Which brings me back to the mystery cake cutting Chef. I never expected my god father, aka the Culinary Institute of America trained Chef in the family, would walk in the front door with his youngest daughter, who is also my god daughter. He is kind of a big deal really.
I was completely surprised. Well, given my reaction, and few flying expletives of disbelief, utter and glorious shock is probably a better descriptor. I had not seen him in over ten years and seeing him standing right in front of me was something I never expected but appreciated more than I could say. Our unexpected reunion quickly rose to the top of our list great family memories and has been the talk of us all even a week later.
Leading up to the event, I was convinced the most nerve racking part would be speaking on stage before I introduced the improv dance performance by Michelina Wingerter. I was never happier to be incorrect. I looked out from the stage and saw only smiling faces. I felt at ease, even when I realized that the smiles could be attributed to the my difficulty locating the microphone and I gestured to the sound tech for some help, only to discover it was right next to me. Duh. Nothing like a dose of old fashioned humility to kick off the entertainment portion of the night.
I still am struggling to find words adequate enough to express the gratitude for and power of that improvisational dance and for the night as a whole. When words fail me, I know my soul was deeply touched. This brilliant and talented artist perfectly connected with the songs I chose and simply killed it. I knew she would be amazing, but was astounded at how she brought my emotional story to life and some in the audience to tears. My attention was split equally between the dance and the reactions of everyone in that room. Every emotion from my experience of coming out later in life was being expressed on the stage for all to see, hear, and feel. I was inspired all over again.
As time passes and more books are sold, fingers crossed, my coming out story continues to take on a life of its own and new chapters are created. Each person that has offered their love and support to me becomes a unique part of the ongoing saga which began the day I decided to write Switching Teams. For each of you I am eternally grateful and humbled by your love and kindness.
I want to also thank a few important people by name and again express my appreciation for everything they did to help with the successful book launch. Thanks to our dear friend Heriot Prentice, HP Photography, for your beautiful photography, to Scott Whitney, Whitney Media Productions, for your skill and patience as you took video of our camera shy bunch, to Michelina Wingerter, for sharing your soul, talent, and beauty with everyone in the room, to Jackie, Helen, Brandi, Jaime and Blue Star for your incredible hospitality, patience, and for welcoming us always to The Venue, to Dr. Elizabeth McCarthy for manning the table and being there for us always.
Thanks to my wife Yvette, for her love, encouragement, and ability to look past my flaws everyday and choose to be at my side anyway. Thank you to my biggest fan my entire life, my dad Jim Redmon, and Diana Bybel, who is vice president of the Dawn Elizabeth Waters Fan Club, for making the long trip, under extraordinary circumstances to be there with me. Thanks to my handsome, smart and incredibly loyal boys, who are my heart and soul, and to my friends who have kindly and gently walked through the fire with me without hesitation time after time. Saying thank you is just not enough.
Salt in the Wound- Delta Spirit (did not make the cut, but was a close one)