Recently, I was walking through one of New York City’s terrific neighborhood street fairs teeming with colorful booths. Banners promised “Millions of Socks!” and vendors proudly displayed tie-dyed scarves and chocolate-covered marshmallows on skewers. The crowd had a Sunday pace and I happily relaxed into the mix of sun-soakers and serious shoppers. As I wandered, some who watch a bit of television offered their kind hellos as they passed by. A friendly guy selling piano lessons wanted to chat. He asked one of the two questions I most often hear.
One is, “Where are you from?”
He asked the other: “How did you get to where you are today?”
It’s always that second question that makes me want to pull out a vinyl pocket photo file. It would flip-flop-flip all the way down to the ground, filled with pictures of the extraordinary people who guided
me, who took a chance on me, who supported me. They are the answer. They are how I got to where I am today.
Think of all the people who’d fill your pocket photo file. Or even the pages of your book. I never really considered writing a book, and wondered—when someone suggested the idea—whether I could. I can’t remember a damn thing! Big problem. A good friend of mine, aware of my recall issues, mailed me a package of dried blueberries when she heard about my book project. The enclosed card (I’m told) read, “Good for your memory. Start eating these by the bushel!” Well, the package never arrived. Classic. The berries got lost, just like my memories.
Turns out, though, several hundred pages later, I did have a book in me. I do remember things once I dig around in the fuzzy matter a bit. (I wisely issued shovels to my siblings, too.) So, what’s my book about? It’s about where I’m from. My family. The hunt for my first television job. And the double whammy that took my breast and broke my heart at the same time. It’s about stories I’ve covered around the globe. Hurricanes Katrina and Kathie Lee. What I’ve learned so far in my life. It’s about how the dirt that gets kicked in our faces sometimes transforms into magic dust. Most important, though, these pages are a way to give credit and thanks to the people who boldly stepped up when no one else would, and who quietly sat down next to me without being asked. My book is about all that and a random guy on a plane who told me, “Don’t hog your journey.”
Okay, I won’t. Here’s my journey. I’m so glad you’re here. Pass the blueberries.