I’ve been staning in line for I don’t know how long, thinking about what to say when I finally get to meet Adam Silvera. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it longer than that. On my way to the book fair, and the day before, and on the train to Copenhagen. How do I tell someone how important he and his books are to me? “I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but -” No, that wouldn’t work. “Your books are so important to me, they really -” Maybe I could say that. I’m sure he’s heard it endless of times though. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything, just pretend like his books and their meaning doesn’t really affect me at all. But that doesn’t seem right. There’s this part in They Both Die at the End that really spoke to me. I want to tell him about it, but no matter how much I turn it over in my head, I can’t figure out how to explain to him just how much it meant to me. After forever but not nearly long enough, I’m suddenly first in line, still with only fractions of sentences planned. My heart is beating quicker than usual and my hands are shaking. It’s been that way all day.
Adam Silvera is standing right in front of me, asking about my name. I tell him it’s Tilda and take a deep breath, or as deep as I manage, nervous as I am, and try to explain how this one scene impacted me, how happy I felt reading it and how much I related to Rufus’ character. How important his loved ones acceptance was. I stumble over my words and it takes a while before I get it right, but I finally get my point across. “And they accepted him, and that just gave me hope that my friends will as well,” I say, or something like that. It’s hard to remember. What he says on the other hand, I don’t think I’ll ever forget. He tells me how the people who accepted him when he was younger are still in his life today, how my friends today are supposed to last a lifetime, so they have to accept who I love. Sure, some of this I’ve read and heard before, someone I don’t know telling someone else I don’t know, but Adam says all of it to me. I actually get to hear someone who has been in a similar position addressing me. When he wishes me all the best, it means more than anyone else’s assuring words have ever meant, because I know that he is talking from experience. I know he understands the way I’m struggling. I also know how I’ll be absolutely fine, because suddenly I feel like I’m maybe not so alone after all.
I’ve always known I’m not the first queer person to walk the earth, of course, but to for the first time meet someone else, and get to listen to him telling me about his experiences, is more important than I could ever put down in words. It’s the most relieving feeling ever.
Once I’ve left the signing table, I cry floods. It’s not bad tears though. It’s the kind of tears that you shed once you’ve been relieved from something heavy, the ones that comes from sheer exhaustion.