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Whose idea was it to send Debbie Galant on a 900-mile “Cars from a Marriage” car trip by herself over four days? Oh yeah, it was mine. It seemed like such a simple thing in the planning, three and a half hours to Baltimore, three and half hours to Charlottesville, back to northern Virginia, back to Baltimore, back home. No leg of the journey was supposed to be longer than four hours.

Discovery number one: the air-conditioner was broken on the minivan.

Let us just say this, because I really don’t want to-relive that excruciating drive. I channeled my inner Ivy (the driving-phobe in my book). I completely wigged myself out and was unable to do my normal reading of the beginning of chapter one, which opens with the sentence, “I’ve always thought of cars as places to die.”

Instead I will focus on this. People are lovely. My cousins are lovely. Strangers are lovely. Booksellers are lovely. Everybody treated me like an Author, capital A, taking me out to dinner, buying copies of my books (sometimes multiple copies), treating me with fresh flowers and little sample-size shampoos and smiling at me while I was reading and laughing at my jokes. Here I am with my Uncle Irv and my cousin Anne at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore. Anne and her sister Idy own The Bead, a fabulous boutique in Baltimore, where I picked up my whole spring wardrobe (and which was mentioned on page 103 of Kitty Kelly’s new Oprah book). It would have been the most fabulous trip ever if I hadn’t spent half the time worrying that I was going to die at the wheel.

And it is great to stay up talking to people. I now believe in the magical regenerative powers of the sleepover. The power of the five-hour conversation.

Thanks to everybody who made this trip special: Anne, Jay, Idy, Kenny, Kendall, Johanna, Rhonda, Tim, Amy, Ginger, Dory, Ellen, Diane, Uncle Irv, Aunt Ida and the folks at the New Dominion Bookshop in Charlottesville and Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore — not to mention the guys who fixed the AC on the minivan Friday morning. And a big shout-out to Matt Small, a colleague of my husband’s at the AP, who drove all the way up from Washington and bought two books. I love you all!

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