Writing the book was not difficult. Choosing the pieces to be photographed was only slightly difficult. Seeing the book in finished form has been
far more difficult than I anticipated. Celebrating its release is extraordinarily tough, though, and it's difficult in a way that is hard to quantify. On the one hand, I know I will be surrounded by friends and people who care about me and Ivaan, I'll be on home turf and the place will be packed with guests, laughing, talking, eating, drinking and showing off their Ivaan jewellery. What's not to like?
I'll give a short speech, welcoming everyone, thanking them for coming, and recognizing the people who played a special part in the creation of the book. I've never suffered from stage fright. You could send me into a room of a million strangers and tell me to charm them right out of their seats or speak to them about astrophysics, and I wouldn't turn a hair, because I'm not invested in my ability to charm people or my knowledge of astrophysics.
But I am deeply invested in wanting to ensure I've done Ivaan justice. I didn't want to write a hagiography; he wasn't remotely saintly and would not have been flattered to be presented as one. In fact, he was extraordinarily quirky, and it's just as well that he was very good-looking, because that kind of quirkiness is rarely well tolerated in someone less beautiful in appearance. But he was an artistic genius and a very kind, generous and large-spirited human being who loved every hair on my head, and I wanted to pay tribute to the whole person, not just one facet of him.
This evening I received an email from a friend who is also an artistic genius. And the interesting thing about this friend is that she has exactly the same very rare quality Ivaan had: when she walks into a room, it's as though someone had suddenly turned on all the lights. It's an extraordinarily attractive quality.
She emailed to tell me that she had just read my book. Here's how she described it:
"It's like a love poem with beautiful pictures".
When I read that, I nearly started howling, because she's a perceptive person and she was able to see what I had been unable to see: that I had, in fact, written a 30-stanza love poem.
In replying to her, I suddenly remembered a poem I'd found among Ivaan's personal papers a few months after he died. The poem had been written by me 40 years prior and he had saved it all those years. I transcribed that poem in a blog post dated April 2014.
This brought me to thinking of another, shorter poem I'd written about Ivaan during a dream I had on January 18, 2002. I wrote it down on actual paper on waking from the dream at 5:30 a.m:
I turn and study faces in the places you have been
To see if any traces of you yet remain therein
You left on me your imprimatur, fingerprint and sign
I wonder if you touched their life as much as you touched mine.
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