How I did research in Africa: Guest Post on Cynsations, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog.
Yesterday, Nesta and I returned from 3 weeks of traveling in Texas and Louisiana to promote This Thing Called the Future. And before that, we spent some time in New York and Austin, Texas and Tucson, Arizona and San Diego, California. Traveling alone with a baby is hard. Traveling alone with a baby when doing booksignings is even harder.
I was lucky to have kind hands to help me along the way. In New York City, Chris’s cousin Katrina watched Nesta (and her own baby) in my hotel room. In Houston, my aunt babysat during my events. In Austin, friend and fellow writer Lindsey Lane watched Nesta during my reading at Bookwoman–he mostly slept in her arms. In Grand Coteau, my friend Jason Saracino took care of Nesta during a performance, soothing him to sleep outside in the muggy night air. And in New Orleans, during the ALA, I was fortunate that another good friend Holly McGee stayed with us at the hotel room and took care of Nesta whenever I needed to be gone. Holly thoroughly enjoyed taking Nesta around the city to see street performers, listen to music, and eat beignets at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter. Holly is African-American; Nesta has an olive tone to his skin (probably from his Cherokee heritage–dad’s side–or his Black Irish heritage–my side) but he doesn’t look black. Nevertheless, people kept stopping her and saying, “Your baby is soooo cute.” She responded, “Why, thank you,” with a gracious smile, each and every time.
I’m glad she was able to enjoy some of the beneficience bestowed towards folks with babies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Having a baby has restored my hope in humankind. Holly told me that people who would never have spoken to her stopped to coo at the baby. “I got on the elevator once,” she told me, “and some straight up thugs, I kid you not, were making gaga faces at him.” This has been my experience. People get doors. They carry luggage. And they all smile at Nesta. He’s never met a stranger. I hope he never does.