I have the great fortune of being new neighbors with a writer – a kind, warm, generous, multi-faceted writer who travels and plays music and mentors young people and builds community among writers. In all my years of imagining Gertrude Stein and her salons and her stunningly brilliant friends … feeling an affinity for Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group … I had this idea that I was living in the wrong time, in the wrong place, and maybe I was, or maybe I am, but right now, I have the great fortune of being new neighbors with a writer.
She invited us to dine and write one night with her writing group – any of us who might be interested. Grace and I went. I put on my hat and coat and gloves. Why? It’s cold. My ears get chilled quickly. I needed warmth on the trek from my front door to hers.
I can see her dining room from my kitchen.
I can’t explain my bundling. It’s just something I do, something I did, something I’ll do again.
Here’s what I wrote when it came time for that. Here’s the bit I shared:
The snap of the fire. The rush of the music. The calm. All the pens moving. This is church. This is a Quaker Friends Meeting, everyone sitting quietly, opening space for truth to tumble in.
How much space or time or heat does the fire need to ignite? Does it depend on the snow? The age of the wood? The ice clinging to its bark? Will the bark light? When?
One log burns down. My writer friend, the fire tender, adds a new log to the stack. Another log changes the sound of the fire, the snap of the sparks.
Family is like this, too.
We bring home a new puppy and the last new pet – a curious grey cat who joined our family as a kitten – pees. He pees everywhere.
Not to put the fire out, but what’s the difference?
Here. Here. Here. The fire. Yes. The rhythm of the music. Brings me back.
I have the great fortune of being new neighbors with a writer.
And although I miss my old neighbor, with whom I imagined for two years (but never planned) coffee dates, with whom I felt at ease – my old neighbor who I was eager to know, who seemed eager to know me, too, to know my family, my daughter, even when my daughter grew jealous and silent around her, wanting me, only me, as her own – although I miss this neighbor and her husband and their beautiful, funny, inquisitive, charismatic children, I am keenly aware that anything can happen and life is now.
I have the great fortune of being neighbors with a writer who – like me – enjoys a good game of dominoes on a snowy Sunday afternoon.