Friday night was the culmination of months of hard work and boy was it sweet. A Night of Literary Feasts was the first major fundraiser for the Lexington Public Library Foundation. Nine authors were flown in from around the country (and Turkey!) and nine people graciously opened their homes to dinners with up to 20 paying guests - all proceeds going to the Foundation. For $150, the Library would do their best to get you into your 1st or 2nd choice, for $250 you would be guaranteed your 1st choice.
We sold 135 tickets and, while we had a few spots left, for all intents and purposes, we sold out. We expected approximately 175 people to attend the cocktail party that proceeded the dinners. There, the authors would be present to sign books and Joseph-Beth (The GREATEST bookstore in the entire world!) would sell them.
As I watched security hustle lagging patrons from the library at closing, and bottle after bottle of liquor was opened, as table cloths were placed on tables that were placed, and replace, and replaced again, as flower arrangements were set up, coat check lights turned on, and the faces of our celebrities entered the building, I started to freak out. What had I forgotten? While I wasn't the chief planner of this event - that honor goes to an amazing coworker of mine - I did my fair share and didn't want to see anything go wrong.
2 hours later, I stood with a glass of wine and felt such a sense of satisfaction. There was much laughter and people seemed to be having a wonderful time. Following the cocktail party, our guests went to dinner with their authors.
The Foundation Director invited me to me his guest at the home of Gay Reading and John Martin, owners of the Greentree Tea Room. Their house was incredible, filled with the most amazing art, and the architecture of their home - surely no less than 200 years old - had narrow hallways and shuttered windows. It was fascinating. The author was Jenny White, whose books are based in 1880 Turkey. She is currently living in Istanbul on a Fulbright Scholarship. Our hosts told us the food was "turkish inspired." We began with a delicious yogurt leek soup. The main course was a chickpea ragu over Basmati rice, with an artichoke and tomato salad, and pita bread. And for dessert we had apricots and figs, raisins and almonds, and turkish delight - ah, and how could the owners of the tea room not serve the finest Earl Grey tea in a magnificent tea pot.
I knew nothing about Turkey before attending this dinner. Now I feel I can at least speak somewhat intelligently of its history, its struggles, and it's beauty. Jenny was engaging and kind, and after dinner we sat and discussed Turkey. Our host, Gay, was incredibly knowledgeable about her book - I think even she was stunned - and he convinced her to read a passage. As I sipped my tea and listened to her imagery, I couldn't help but wonder what I was doing there, participating in such a cool event.
I got home at 11:30, freezing cold and with sore feet, and kind of stunned by a very unusual evening. Today I am still stunned. Stunned and grateful to have had the experience, and that it is over - at least until next year.