"Are you Rich?"
I have to admit, I was a little worried when a kid from Barnstable asked me, “hey, are you Rich?”
I've had some good-natured back-and-forth with the denizens of Stable Nation over the past few years. I cover Falmouth High School sports, and Barnstable is the old time rivals. The two schools have been battling it out for about a century and a half on the football field. For the most part it's a friendly rivalry, but each side gets heated from time to time.
The kid was picking up crumbled Gatorade cups along the end line as halftime concluded at the lacrosse game in Barnstable on May 23. I was walking that way to set up to take some pictures during the second half and I said to the poor kid, “man, they gave you the bad job, huh.”
“He said, no big deal,” and then asked if I was me.
“I am,” I replied, hoping a shoe wasn't about to drop. I don't know if he could tell, but I was trying to figure out if I'd made a joke at Barnstable's expense on Twitter or something. Nothing was clicking, though.
“I'm really looking forward to your book,” he said. “I'm Tim, I play hockey for Barnstable.”
I asked his last name, and I remembered him from this past season. He's a good player, and his team was really good. I had picked them to go to the Garden, but they fell a little short. They were a fun team to watch, though and Tim played well for them.
“That story means a lot to me,” he continued. I might be wrong, but it seemed that it might be personal to him. Maybe he knew some of the kids that the book is based on. I don't know for sure. I can't wait for him to get to read it. I hope he likes it. I hope everyone does.
For me, it was an eye-opening experience. This book was written, and journey taken, for a lot of reasons. It was a coping mechanism for me after probably the toughest months of my life. Even though I was writing a story that was based on some real life stuff that was tragic, it was still an escape. In Eastport, I knew everyone really well. I loved spending time with those characters. I knew the major beats of what was going to happen, because it was following a similar story to things that happened in real life, but I got to craft that world and create.
By the time I got to the end of the first draft I felt like I'd accomplished something worth doing. Now, nine months after that, it's almost ready for the world to see.
My run-in with Tim showed me that this story will carry beyond Falmouth, and hopefully beyond Cape Cod. I cover ground that will be hard for people to read, especially young adults, but that's because it will feel real. The most difficult chapters will bring some tears, of that I'm sure.
I shared that story last week at a meeting with my amazing editor, Nicole, and she did not seem surprised at all. She said something along the lines of, “Rich, this book is going to connect with a lot of people outside of your bubble.”
From her mouth to God's ears, I hope.
My dream is that it will also bring some healing and hope to those that enter that world that I spent so much time in over the last two years, as well as an occasional laugh, and some smiles.
Tim, I'm glad you're looking forward to reading the book. I'm happy to tell you that it won't be long until you can. An official announcement on a release date is coming very soon, and I can't wait to let you all know. Let's just say people will be able to read it on the beaches of Cape Cod, and beyond, shortly.