Yesterday my daughter, Georgia, and I went to the release and book signing of Nicholas Spark’s newest novel “The Longest Ride” at the Target, here in New Bern. One of the many great things about this area is that this town we call home, is also shared with Nicholas Sparks. This means every time he has a new release of a novel he launches it that day with a book signing here in New Bern before hitting the road to the rest of the country!
I have always attended past book signings of his alone. It just never worked out where a friend could go with me, and Georgia was always in school so she couldn’t go with me either. Now that she is graduated from high school, I asked if she’d like to go with me. I mean, she loves all of his movies and just this past year started reading his novels. I often find her going to my built in bookshelves in my den, and browsing my Nicholas Sparks collection on its own designated shelf. When she’s done reading one of his books, we will talk about the plot and the ending and what we liked about the characters. So I thought she’d love to go with me yesterday. When I asked her on Monday night, she wasn’t as excited as what I had thought she would be, and replied casually “Yea, sure. I’ll go with you.”
The book signing was earlier than his previous ones and for the first time in New Bern, at the Target rather than the local mall as in other years. As soon as we got my youngest, Katie, dressed and beautified for school pictures and on the school bus, we headed out the door. The signing started at 8am and we arrived at shortly after 8:30am. The line was already wrapped around the side of the building, around the entire length of the back and starting to go around the other side of the store.
Georgia was in complete disbelief and awe at the turn out, despite that I had told her about the lines every time I’d attended the prior book signings of previous years. Still no excitement from her, just happy to be along for the ride I guess!
The time that we stood in line was 6.5 hours!
During those hours, we got a chance to really get to know those women who were in line directly in front and behind us. In 6.5 hours of being right next to the same people, you can learn a lot of stuff about someone! I had worn two of my Origami Owl lockets and was impressed at the interest that wearing them was generated! Thankfully I had a handful of my new, beautiful business cards and a few take out menu’s (what we call our catalogs) with me!
Once we were able to get in the store, we bought our books at the customer service area and then were ushered to another line which wrapped the inside of the Target store.
Not only were we going to be able to get a signed copy and have a few minutes with Nicholas Sparks, but the books on hand yesterday had a bonus! They included a DVD with behind the scenes look at “The Longest Ride” filmed on location at Black Mountain in NC with Nicholas Sparks!
As we’re waiting in line and time is approaching 2pm, Georgia is growing weary. She’s losing any interest she had in being there, and says with disappointment that she won’t be able to make it to Green Springs with her friends in time for an afternoon of fun and swimming. Green Springs is a local hang out here on the banks of the Neuse River. It’s made by a local man and has been a summer staple for the kids for several years. Consisting of several levels of diving towers and rope swings, it’s a place off the beaten path and certainly off of the tourist radar!
Georgia has been going there all summer with her friends, at least 3 times a week. She had just went as recent as this past Sunday and had plans on going yesterday. When her friend called her back and they rescheduled for today, she seemed relieved but yet defeated. It had been a long day, with HOURS of standing, for her. As we finally were in position of being less than 20 people away from our turn with Nicholas, she sat down on a low shelf and put her hoodie over her head, and rested it on her knees. I could tell she was kind of over “it” at this point, but she still kept a happy face on.
The closer we inched, the faster paced things went. We were getting our camera’s ready and his assistants were taking our books and opening them for him to sign.
When it was our turn, I let Georgia go first. As soon as she sat in the chair next to him, and before his pen even hit paper, Nick started the following conversation with her.
Nicholas Sparks: “Hey there! Didn’t we just have a conversation two days ago?!” said with surprise and cheer.
Georgia: “Um, no sir… I don’t think so.” Looking a little star struck and even more confused.
Nicholas Sparks: “Yea, YEA! We did!!!! On Sunday, at Green Springs! We were talking!” said with absolute certainty and surprise.
Georgia: a long pause, a moment of reflection…followed by eyes turning the size of saucers, a look of “OMG!”, a flushing of red through the face, and her mouth hitting the floor… and said with nervous surprise and laughter “Oh my Gosh! I didn’t recognize you! You had sunglasses on!”
Nicholas Sparks: “Yea!!! You didn’t know who I was, did you!?!” laughing and giggling even more, with pride and a little disbelief, but yet as though he had just pulled off a surprise party for someone.
Georgia was beside herself! I was standing there with my mouth hanging open, eyes darting between the two of them, wondering WHAT was going on?! Georgia was hanging out at Green Springs with Nicholas Sparks and she didn’t know it!!! And even more impressing was that HE recognized her and remembered their encounter! Not the other way around!
While were standing in line for those 6.5 hours, his security had briefed us through the time about if he was on a break, how many books he would sign, and had told us that unlike in the past, he would not be personalizing the signings. He would simply sign it “Nicholas Sparks”. I was okay with that, being that the last book “Safe Haven” he had signed with “April, Love Nicholas Sparks”. And when we were in line, Georgia was only coming along to keep me company, and get a book as a secondary incentive, so she didn’t mind just having his normal signature.
Once they both stopped laughing like two school kids, he asked Georgia what her name was. After I had my moment with him, and we were walking away, Georgia had a grin from ear to ear that couldn’t be wiped off, and tears of excitement in her eyes…showing me her book and he had signed it “Georgia, xoxo Nicholas Sparks”.
It was a perfect day, a perfect memory for Georgia, for me, for us together as mother and daughter, and I believe for Nicholas Sparks!
Once again, I have to say that I am always in awe and appreciative of his humbleness. Of how easy he is to approach, how he makes you feel that you’ve been friends for forever, and how cheerful he is! I’ve stood in line with my children, right behind his wife Cathy and their children waiting for carnival rides at our annual Mumfests. I’ve driven by his house too many times to count.
I believe it’s this town. A place where we all have the grace of the South in our mannerisms, and our relations to one another. He could have picked any other place in the country to raise his family and call home. Yet, he picked New Bern, our small coastal town on the Neuse River. A place where he can take his kids to Green Springs and watch them swing from ropes and drop into the river below, and do the ordinary things that ordinary people do with their families. As stated back in an earlier post about him and New Bern, whenever I get star struck by him, I am always reminded that he’s just an ordinary person like the rest of us, leading an ordinary life, but with an extraordinary gift that he gives to this small town and the rest of the world!
With this being pressed, and looking at the priceless smile on my daughters face, I’m going to walk across my drive and sit on the Neuse River…enjoy the view, the beautiful Fall weather, and count my blessings for us being stationed here and all the wonderful memories this area has given me over the years!
If you like the locket I made for the occasion yesterday, please feel free to order from my website with Origami Owl at www.aprilski.origamiowl.com, visit my Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/OrigamiOwlAprilSki and check out other beautiful locket creations!