Sometimes, I’m an idiot and I regret things…
One of my more acute (but only terrible to myself) regrets, is of the time I ran and hid from Ursula K. Leguin. Don’t know her? Go read everything she has written. She is amazing.
I was working as a facilities maintenance worker (read: JANITOR) at the downtown Seattle Public Library on a night shift. Although the job was hard physically, and made me constantly tired it also had some pretty amazing perks – books. Everywhere. And lots of them. One of the areas I kept clean was the science fiction department and YA section. I would devour books on my breaks, sometimes barely remembering to eat just so I could finish a book and pick up another one. It was during this time that I discovered one of my other favorite short fiction writers Ted Chiang along with the exceptional Ursula K. Leguin.
On one particularly special Friday evening at the library, Ursula K. Leguin had been a guest speaker and had just finished her talk with a full audience who had given her a hearty and rousing applause. It was a little after this that I heard people walking towards the back-of-house portion of the auditorium where there was a little dressing room for library guest speakers. She was coming back there, probably to grab her things. I was back there too, rinsing out a nasty mop-bucket after a clean-up from a notoriously disgusting first floor public men’s room. (You don’t even want to know what I cleaned on a regular basis *shudders*)
When I heard she was coming I took off in the opposite direction.
I told myself there was a carpet that needed to be vacuumed in the children’s office right away because they had had cupcakes with the sprinkles on them and you know how those get all over the floor. Not to mention they had black carpeting which made everything show and it couldn’t possibly wait.
Of course I was lying to myself.
I was terrified.
Terrified that I would see Ursula K. Leguin and she would see me: the sweaty, tired-of-working nights, dreaming-of-being-a-writer-but-never-brave-enough to-try-Janitor.
So, I hid and didn’t stop vacuuming until I was sure she was gone. Then I went back to rinsing the mop bucket and cleaning the rest of the bathrooms, trying my best to pretend I wasn’t angry or sad that I just missed my once in a lifetime opportunity to meet her.
In the years since, that regret has never ceased to prick at me. And as I pursue my dream of being a writer it makes me even more sad that I did this.
The regret isn’t so much that I passed up an opportunity to shake her hand or maybe take a photo with my favorite author, the remorse is that I didn’t want to meet her because I was afraid, and ashamed of who I was. How prideful is that? It’s just so…lame.
And as a story teller, I throw books across the room that end this way-yet there it is, a crappy anti-climatic ending.
Just promise me this: if you ever get a chance to meet your Ursula, don’t run away out of fear. Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are. Be sweaty, be tired, pull off your rubber gloves, proudly offer Ursula your hand and live without regrets.