So, page 17 of my schedule, and the last of my 13 flights looms, this time to home. I was going to wax lyrical about last night, in which I got to open a library. Yup. And not just any library, but a library so vast and beautiful and so inviting to the most casual of readers that I had to be pretty much prised out of it to make the journey back to Milwaukee.
Madison Library was a 1960s building in the state capital that looked, according to one of its librarians, ‘like a nuclear bunker’. Two years, and a $29m redesign later, looks like Series 4 of Mad Men. But with books. It was an honour to be there on its first day, not just because it was a wonderful event, with hundreds of people, and a reception with all sorts of delicious foods (Wisconsin is the cheese capital of the USA), but because I was so happy to be opening a library at a time when in the UK at least, this government is chipping away our most egalitarian educational resource, and we will never be able to replace it.
Okay, so enough of the political stuff. It was a great evening. And I have huge library envy. And I ate some fine cheese. Even the goaty stuff with the cocoa powder on.
But I decided I couldn’t talk about that because I’m too tired.
So I just wanted to end the trip with a few thoughts about things that happen at the end of a book tour.
Mostly you lose stuff, like:
Your passport. Repeatedly, at security gates, boarding gates, random luggage checks in front of unfriendly airport staff who do not appreciate your jokes. Nope.
Your sports bra from a locked hotel room that you were asleep in. How? HOW?
Your waistline. One day you will be able to move your finger past the breakfast menu entry that says “stack of pancakes”. But not yet.
The expensive present you bought your daughter. You will find it, wedged into a training shoe, half an hour after you have bought its overpriced replacement.
The artisan Wisconsin cheese that you were given that you put into the fridge for safekeeping and of course promptly forgot, because you are unused to staying in hotel rooms that contain actual fridges.
Your enthusiasm for walking around strange cities. You are too tired, and those American hotel beds are Just. Too. Comfortable.
You realise that you will never stop trying to get in the driver’s side of an American car.
You are forced to confront the fact that although you are 44 years old, you will never stop finding the fact that you are staying at the Pfister Hotel funny.
You will find yourself inexplicably shepherded into the posh lounge at the airport, because while you have been away it turns out you have racked up so many thousands of air miles that you have unwittingly turned into George Clooney in Up In The Air.
You know that while you have managed 13 flights in 13 days, two of which were in tornado weather, you will never, ever like the small planes.
You will, however, love the inventor of Valium.
Mostly you will be happy. Happy and grateful that you had actual audiences, and didn’t have to talk to empty rooms and saw some amazing places and met some great people. But more happy that in less than 12 hours you will see your children again, who will no doubt complain about something that happened at school, or leave their socks under the sofa, or bicker at the dinner table, and the dog will do something disgusting and you realise it’s all fine and you can’t wait.
Because there’s no place like home.