When I first met Jon I got paid by his publisher to drive him around on his book tours. I went to events within driving distance with him, drove him to TV interviews in NYC, and dropped him off and picked him up from the airport when he traveled.
We had only been friends for a while when I first got this job and I was certain he’d turn into an asshole as soon as we go on the road.
I had little faith in men back then and I was just waiting for him to turn on me.
But he never did.
Whether I was helping out with the animals on the farm or bringing him tea as he signed books for the people waiting in line at the bookstores, Jon never treated me differently. And he didn’t change either. He was the same person when they made a movie from his book A Dog Year, as when we stopped for a quick lunch on the Thruway.
He also put as much into his book talks whether there were three people in the audience or a hundred.
But for someone who was used to that kind of attention, and loved it, he’s also great behind the camera.
After our Bellydancing performance, I told Jon how I appreciated that he gave me space before and between sets. He was taking pictures and videos of the performance, so he wasn’t with the rest of the audience.
But he also wasn’t intrusive.
That’s when he told me how he learned when he was the Executive Producer of CBS Morning News how to be around people who were about to go live on the air. How to be supportive but leave them alone, understanding they need to prepare even if it looks like they’re not doing anything to someone on the outside.
It was so helpful that Jon understood this. I wouldn’t have had the words to explain that need, since I’ve had so little experience with it.
I did pay more attention to Jon than I probably would have because he was still recovering from covid and I was concerned that he’d get tired and I didn’t want him to overdo it. But Jon isn’t any easier to stop when he’s doing something he loves than I am.
He got some great pictures of us dancing (you can see them on his blog and on Julz’s blog too) and took portraits of each of us before the performance began as well as videos. And it was great to have him there.
Jon has a healthy ego and loves to be the center of attention, he’s never more comfortable than when he’s on stage, the bigger the audience the better.
But he also appreciates that quality in other people. It’s one of the reasons why he is so supportive of me in my work. Creativity is a like a religion to him and spreading and nurturing it in other people is a calling.
He can be annoying and pushy at times, but Jon never became the asshole I thought he might be. He could be bitter no longer having the fame he once enjoyed, but the older he gets, the more thoughtful and generous he’s become.
The night after our Bellydancing performance I woke up at 4 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. So Jon got his iPhone and we watched the videos he took of the performance.
When we had seen them all, I curled up next to him and we both fell soundly asleep in each other’s arms.