This past Wednesday, I anxiously strode (with a half eaten Santa Fe salad and winter coat in hand) into the fancy glass room tucked at the very back of Suffolk University’s multiple-story library. It had only been three o’clock, but eager eared spectators, some in strollers and others in sweater vests and collared shirts, had quickly begun piling into the neatly positioned rows of chairs. As three-thirty drew closer, the giddy whispers grew into enthusiastic chatter. Everyone, including my classmate and I, were curious as to where the man of the hour and fifteen minutes was. I squirmed around in my seat a bit, wondering what he would look like or how he would make his big entrance. Would he stroll in sporting khakis and loafers? An air of superiority? I mean, he’s Nick Flynn. The man’s penned and published pages on pages of praise worthy prose and metaphoric genius in the forms of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and The Reenactments (to name a few). Hollywood’s gobbled up his life story and spit it back out in movie form for crying out loud. Not only that, but he’s also got a wiki page! Who knew what to expect?
My eyes skipped across the room, and then to the large windows toward the front of the room. I pursed my lips in an attempt to avoid a yawn. In an effort to see if I was the only one present who hadn’t slept as much as I should have the night before, I tuned into the enthusiastic chatter a bit more. Suddenly my classmate nudged my right arm, leaned over, and mumbled, “Is that him? I think that’s him.” I spun around in my chair, attempting to act as natural as possible, bumping my knee on the chair to my left in the process. A small semicircle of unfamiliar faces emerged through the tall wooden double doorway. Lagging a bit behind all of the other faces is one that is only familiar because it had popped up on my iPhone’s Google app just an hour before.
I watched as Nick Flynn (clothed in a green t-shirt and jeans), headed to the very front row of seats, opposite the section that my classmate and I are in, and after a quick introduction I watched Flynn approach the front of the room. He sipped from his thermos, preparing to address his audience.
“I was told that this was just going to be some people and a table, so I didn’t really prepare,” Flynn chuckled, ultimately deciding that he would read excerpts from his books and then answer questions. Flynn managed to get a laugh out of his audience with each question answered, especially with the more serious questions asked. When classmate raised her hand and inquired, “Have you always been writing? Did you always use that as a way to get your feelings out?” He paused and joked back, “Uh..I’m trying to think of something funny to say about that!” Flynn shortly after answered, stating that he had taken to writing for as long as he could remember, and that he wrote to “settle the chaos” in his mind. Inspired by my classmate’s bravery I too raised a shaky hand, stuttering a bit I asked Mr. Flynn what he did to prepare himself to lay all of that chaos out on paper. He replied, “Every project has different needs, but mediation I’d say definitely helps to clear out the chaos in the brain.”
As the evening progressed, more hands went up, more laughs were let out, and more excerpts were read. It most definitely became apparent that Suffolk enjoyed Flynn’s company, seeing that many lingered even after his closing remarks.