The other day, while watching CBS This Morning, I saw that Gayle King wasn’t anchoring the news. Nora O’Donnell announced that Gayle King was off on assignment but didn’t say where—they usually don’t. I didn’t think much of it. I had a plane to catch and had to finish packing, but of course the news isn’t quite the same without Gayle King.

I flew that morning and afternoon to my home state and hometown, and when I got to my parents’ house, my dad said he wanted to go to the grocery store. While this might not sound like the type of adventure that a person would jump at doing as soon as she has arrived, I immediately said, “I’ll go with you” because the grocery store is right downtown, which we can walk to as it is only a few blocks away, and this is where I will see the hustle and bustle of the place I love. My favorite coffee shop in the world is there—when I come back for visits, I go to the Emporium every day to write, and writing comes easy there, the way it does not as easily in any other place, so I consider it magical in much the same way that I consider my hometown magical. It’s a place of all things possible.

But I digress.

We set out for the grocery store, Tom’s Market, taking the long way there, which means going down the other street first (there are only, basically, two that make up the downtown) and passing the Starflower Natural Foods store, Super-Fly Comics & Games, and Village Artisans, and going by the post office and the gas station owned by one of my high school classmates, and Bonadies Glass Studio and Ye Olde Trail Tavern and Kings Yard, which houses the best little bookstore—Sam and Eddie’s Open Books—whose owner has said she will look into carrying my first book when it comes out this summer. It was in this town that I first believed I would one day write a book. 

Every time I walk these streets, it is a love song to my hometown.

Where I was standing when I first saw Gayle King. My father was with me at this spot. My father was not half as excited as I was.

Where I was standing when I first saw Gayle King. My father was with me at this spot. My father was not half as excited as I was.

My dad decided he had to go to the bank before heading into Tom’s Market, and just as we were passing by the front entrance to the grocery store, I looked across the street (when I come home I am always searching to see who is downtown—old friends? my favorite high school teachers? writer friends I have met through Antioch?), and there she was, with a camera crew around her. Gayle King. In my hometown. I saw who she was with—Dave Chapelle, who lives in my hometown—and realized she must be filming an interview because they were walking and talking and the cameraman was right on them. What I wanted to do was shout, “I LOVE YOU, GAYLE KING!” but I didn’t want her first and only impression of me to be some weirdo who screwed up the filming and made them have to take two. My dad told me I could just wait outside the bank so I could watch the whole thing, so I stood there, trying to see where they were going as they walked in the other direction, disappearing from my view. 

What makes someone fangirl over another person? Not all celebrity sightings would have instilled this excitement in me. I was never a person who plastered posters of singers or actors on my wall, and I am the bane of famous musicians: I am most definitely not the person who goes to see live concerts. I’m content to skip the crowds and play the album in my own home, thank you very much. 

Where Gayle King was when I first spotted her. Approximate distance between us: one small-town street. In other words, too far.

Where Gayle King was when I first spotted her. Approximate distance between us: one small-town street. In other words, too far.

So why Gayle King? If you’ve never watched the CBS morning news, then you've missed out on a great trio of anchors who have the chemistry and repartee to make the news more interesting than it otherwise might be. It does not go unnoticed by me that the two women outnumber the one man, Charlie Rose. I like it when they gang up a little on him. All three are intellectual powerhouses, but they also each bring something else to the table, reflected in their personalities. Gayle King says the thing I am always thinking but that I never heard get said before on newscasts. After news stories, she sometimes makes comments such as, “Well, I’m not so sure how I feel about that,” or “He might have had that coming,” or “Sounds like they still have some things to work out.” Her responses are measured, never mean-spirited, but they are unapologetic and very much her opinion, which always seem to be my opinion.

I like all the CBS news anchors, but she's the one I would want to have a beer with, even though I hate beer and therefore don't drink beer—but I would if it meant getting to shoot the breeze with Gayle King. Maybe I love Gayle King because, in part, I want to be the type of person who can say exactly what I think but say it nicely, kindly. Maybe I want to be as comfortable in my skin as she always seems to be. She exudes a laid-backness I have never quite mastered. She tackles big topics and hard news items, but she makes it look easy. 

Maybe seeing Gayle King on the streets of my little hometown was a reminder that anything is possible, on any given day—if allowed the opportunity to believe in it.