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November 23, 1998

I met Tori backstage in Bethlehem on a Tuesday night. It took so much work, but I knew that if I could only let her know I was there, she would want to meet me. I'd written to John Witherspoon about being able to meet her and he acknowledge he'd recieved my letter when I spoke to him at the Storyteller's taping. I felt sure that I would hear something, but I didn't. After being chased by security guards away from where Tori's security was most of the day, I was half dispairing of ever letting her know I was there. Anthony had given her my latest story at the meet and greet, but knew I would have to do the work to get in.

I finally saw Steve Sanchez outside the entrance and walked up to him. I introduced myself and explained about writing to John and that since it was my last concert, I'd like to meet Tori. He laughed and said, "Yeah, so would everyone else here." I said to him, "If you would just say my name, she'd know who I am and want to meet me." I explained I had been giving her stories all tour long. He walked off and after talking on his cell phone for a while, came back to ask how many more concerts I was going to. I told him again it was my last. He shook his head again and told me that Natalie would be coming out. She was out in a few minutes and I once again explained about my stories. She said to find her after the show and she'd let me know, but not to get my hopes up.

But I had no doubt. I just knew in my gut that I would finally meet Tori. It was the right time. After the concert, the security guards tryed to chase me out, but I said that Natalie said I should stay there. Steve Sanchez (looking confused and skeptical) told them to leave me be. All of a sudden Natalie sees me and comes over to tell me to wait on the side and she'd be back in a moment to take me backstage.

In the space between the auditorium and the backstage she apoligized for not knowing who I was before, which thrilled me to no end. She told me to wait in a large common area. I helped myself to a bottle of water and set about studying the people backstage. On the stairs, looking very frightened were 3 girls and a boy who had won the RAINN auction. One girl looked as though she would fall apart any second. Milling around were 4 other people, including a very pregnent girl, who appeared to be friends of Joel's. It really was quite fun to watch Joel and Steve goof around, losing their "work faces" and just being guys.

Natalie came back and led the RAINN group back. 10 minutes later I heard her escort them out, trying to calm down the one girl who'd gone into hysterics. She then brought the friends of Joel's back and I talked with him and his fiance, Jay. She is the sweetest girl and I really enjoyed hearing how she had met him and what it was like on the other side of the barricades of the meet and greet. She said Neil Gaimen had mentioned he wants to write a book about the tragic stories behind these people who give their lives up to follow Tori. I told her how I had decided after the Philly show to only go to M&G to meet other Toriphiles. If I was going to meet Tori again, it would be because she wanted to meet me. Jay laughed and said it looked as though I'd gotten my wish.

At that point the same security guard who'd hassled me all day came around to kick me out, but Natalie appeared at that instant and led me down the hall. She took me to a door that was open a crack and told me to walk in. It was dark and candlelit, the aroma filling the room. Tori was putting on her jacket and scarf as Natalie said it would have to be quick, security wanted them out fast.

Tori smiled and took both of my hands in hers. "How are you?" she asked me. "I, I, OK" I stammered. Now that I was actually there, my mind seemed to have gone south on me. She looked deep into my eyes and said, "I want you to know how much your words mean to me. I got your story today and I want you to know (she picked up the book from next to her candles) that this is going with me. What are you doing with RAINN?"

I explained that it seemed as though RAINN's hands were tied as far as backing the publishing of Upside Down and I was trying to find a publisher who would do it as non-profit. She told me that although she knew nothing about that side of the business, Natalie did, or knew someone who could help and she would talk with me after we were done. I thanked her and said, "I really want to start doing public speaking" and she nodded her head and said, "Oh yes, you are so needed. The girls need someone like you so much." I nodded and replied, "Not only the ones trapped in the cycle of abuse, but the ones trapped in the cycle of recovery. They need to know there is so much more. More than just surviving."

Tori smiled hugely and grabbed me for a tight hug. "Don't give up. Do it. Your words mean so much to me. Your words just mean so much to me." She held both of my hands tightly again when security started to bang. She pulled a face and I asked if we could have a quick picture. "Of course" she agreed. I handed Natalie my camera and stood next to Tori. Tori grabbed me around my waist and said, "Get closer." So in the picture I look in shock while she is standing with a very satisfied look on her face, little mona lisa smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. She took both of my hands again and said once more, "Your words mean so much to me. Thank you and don't ever give up." Natalie showed me the way out. Now that I think of it, neither of us said good bye. How odd. I once had a friend who said true friends never say goodbye, for they know that they will meet again. Natalie told me that Tori keeps all of the stories I gave her on her personal bookshelf on the bus and she knew that my number and address were on them. She wracked her brain for a moment trying to think of who would help me, then said although she didn't know anyone at the moment, she would contact me when she found someone. I smiled and thanked her, saying, "I'd appriciate that, but I'll make it no matter what. I'm fairly tenacious. Look, I'm basically a nobody and I just met Tori Amos." She laughed and said "That's right. Great additude." She once again said she'd be in touch if she found someone and showed me the private artists exit to the front.

Needless to say, I'm still overwhelmed. I never expected her to take up the entire time thanking me. I should have been the one saying what her words mean to me as opposed to her saying it. But then again, she all ready knows what she means to me. It sure is nice to know she feels the same way.

In this photo, you can see the cover of my book reflecting in the candlelight. This truly was a magical experience.

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~**Fairy Blessings~**