Last night was absolutely crazy in San Francisco as the entire city celebrated the Giants’ third World Series win in the last five years. Fireworks exploded, cars honked as fire trucks and ambulances blared their sirens, and people in jerseys flooded the streets waving flags, screaming, and high-fiving passersby. Buildings in the Civic Center were basked in orange lights, giving the city a Halloween-appropriate glow.
As for me? Full disclosure: I never saw a single second of the game, nor any game in the entire series. Blasphemy, I know, given that my grandfather was none other than Jeff Carter, a celebrated Giants announcer during the 1970s who sang the National Anthem at home games.
So even though my parents and other relatives are die-hard fans, I admit that I’m just not much of a sports person. Instead of joining fans in the bars, I attended a book signing at Books Inc. for Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.
The contrast of interest was stark. Nafisi, whose claim to fame was risking her life to teach English Literature during post-revolutionary Iran, discussed her new memoir The Republic of Imagination. She lamented America’s consumer-driven culture which takes education and freedom for granted. She declared that slowly and subconsciously losing the ability to care about the arts is far worse than having them abruptly taken away from you.
Nafisi was a petite bundle of energy, passion gushing out of her and inspiring others. A highly educated professor, she talked about Mark Twain and James Baldwin with the same fervor that people were discussing Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Time flew by, and I’m sure everyone in the bookstore wished that we could have had more time sharing our love of reading with her.
Walking back to the BART station among the festivities was a unique experience. You don’t have to love baseball to enjoy the infectious spirit that filled the air. Because whether you’re boisterously cheering with your fellow fans or just having a quiet evening with people who like the same books you do, what’s so special is being part of a community and feeling a sense of belonging.
What Nafisi reminded me is that we should appreciate the fact that we live in a country where baseball games and book signings can happen freely and uncensored. I’m so fortunate that I can speak my mind, read anything I like, and walk the streets at night unaccompanied wearing what I want without fear of repercussion.
And that is what’s worth celebrating the most of all. Thank you, Azar Nafisi, for showing us that.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Saturday is the start of NaNoWriMo, so check back then for my kickoff blog post before I retreat into my writing hibernation!