Yesterday, Columbus, OH was fortunate enough to receive a visit from the man, the myth, and the legend: John Green. Also Nat Wolff, Halston Sage, and top-paid British supermodel Cara Delevingne, but who cares, right? I was there for John.
You may or may not know (you probably know) that I’m enthusiastic about John’s work. Not just his books, either, but his YouTube channels, philanthropic work, educational outreach, and of course, his brother. To put it simply, I have somehow acquired over 12 copies of the same book (most signed, two from other countries and in languages I cannot speak). That’s really the most accurate picture I can draw of my obsession.
All that being said, John’s visit to Columbus yesterday was something I had looked forward to since the city contest was announced, knowing that Ohio (who historically loves John a lot) would win one of the three nationwide visits. And we did win. Unfortunately, the date chosen for his visit was also a work day.
This was the first lesson: adulting. I’m so lucky to work in a place that allows me the flexibility to choose my schedule and alter it when need-be. Shoutout to my supervisor (who will probably not read this?) for giving me the day off for a vague “Columbus city event” and then listening to me gush about John Green for a few minutes at the start of the day. I took a half day and arrived at the Palace Theater (luckily less than a block away from my office) at noon. Not having eaten, I was immediately hangry with the swarm of teenagers surrounding me who clearly had no responsibilities to attend to that day and had arrived two hours earlier to get a coveted space at the press event to see John. It made me think about how The Fault in Our Stars movie has changed John Green and the community surrounding him forever. For more on this, watch one of the many videos in which John discusses the future and growth of the community. For two hours before the theater doors opened, I listened to new drivers discuss their first car accidents, parents talk about college plans with other parents who were crazy enough to drive their kids four hours to see an author and actors, and a few young adults who were clearly fans since 2007 (my people). And while at times I was annoyed with the dillitantes that seemed to threaten what feels like my personal community, I reminded myself that OMG THESE YOUNG ADULTS ARE READING COMPLEX BOOKS, they are falling in love with literature the way I did when I was their age, and they are contributing to the success of my favorite author, who I love to see enjoying the spotlight in a profession so often unrecognized or cared about. This may not account for all of the new readers (or people who just watched the movie), but for now, it’s enough to comfort me in the transition.
Clearly, I care a lot of John Green, which brings me to lesson 2. Literal tears. When JG came on stage, I shed a few. I don’t care how embarrassing that is. I was so far away from the stage (that’s what happens when you work, kids), but seeing someone I admire so much FINALLY in person, was an emotional experience.
But this also leads to lesson 3. While it was so cool to see JG in the flesh and know he was in Columbus, it was also a reminder that John is just a person. When a fan told Cara during the Q&A, “you’re the most inspirational person I know,” it was almost (no, it was definitely) uncomfortable. Because he doesn’t know her, and he never will most likely, just as I will never know John fully. The entire point of Paper Towns is to take people off pedestals, to imagine them complexly. And this is exactly what we should do with celebrities, especially those whose work we care about and love. It’s hard to imagine a John Green that isn’t perfect (as I’m sure it’s hard for everyone to imagine their favorite celebrity being anything less than they best self), but I’m sure that he, like all of us, has days where he is not a great human.
This doesn’t make him any less important to me or others, but it’s comforting to know that even our favorite people have flaws. And it’s important that we let them have them.
Okay, this post really just served as a space to process my day, so I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. Hank, I’ll see you on Tuesday.