The Four Seasons

The Cross-Eyed Joker

When I was little, waiting for my birthday was sheer torture. Time was so mean to me! It refused to do anything but creep along, wagging its fingers behind its ears with its eyes crossed and its tongue sticking out. A month ago, waiting for THE FOUR SEASONS to be released felt a little like that.

One difference, of course is that at my age, one has to be crazy to want time to pass quickly, since it feels increasingly short. More to the point, however, the busy life of an adult makes having only one horizon, one thing to concentrate on, a long-forgotten luxury. I’ve had papers to grade, deadlines to keep track of, tests to revise, errands to run, presidential debates and World Series games to rush home for. One horizon was two days out and another three, and before I knew it a week had passed and then one more. And now here I am, on another kind of birthday—the debut of my firstborn novel.

Pop open the champagne! My book’s in stores, glowing with gold trim and a radiant violinist on the cover. Yesterday afternoon, when I first saw it in the new fiction case of Borders, I stood for a moment in front of it before taking a photo on my I-phone and rushing out of the store to call my friends and family. “Oh yeah,” I realize a while later, far from the store. “I’m supposed to sign stock!” I’m kind of glad I didn’t, though. I need some time to get used to this.

If the lead-up to my birthday was torture when I was young, the day after was the true valley of despond. If time ever played a cruel joke, it was making kids wait a whole year to be acknowledged like that again. This birthday is different, since it will just keep going. The first time I see someone reading THE FOUR SEASONS—maybe on the trolley, or on a plane or in a waiting room—is going to feel like the Fourth of July! I can see that cross-eyed joker, Time, sticking out its tongue again, getting ready to make me wait.