Tuesday, January 17, 2017

There are many, many things that I disliked about my California exile. One of the more ironic things (given my line of work) that plagued my time there was the fact that I was never able to get a good book club going. What makes a good book club? Good books, good wine, good snacks...and good people who, you know, actually read the book. I eventually got fed up with the women who turned up and said sheepishly, "I didn't get a chance to read the book this month..."

A couple of months back, when I was working the Reference Desk, I helped a woman find a book. She mentioned that it was for her book club.

"Oooh, where's your book club?"

An impish smile tugged at her lips. "It's just me and my friends." She paused, lowered her voice. "We call it Read The Book Or Get The Fuck Out."

I've found my people.

Last Wednesday, on a weirdly stormy evening, I went to C3, a pretentious neighborhood (not my neighborhood) bar for the first book group meeting of the year. Other than the woman who originally told me about their group, I hadn't met any of the other members. Yet within a few minutes of meeting these women, I plunged into a fantastic conversation about books. Is there anything better than talking about books? 

Eventually, we got around to talking a little about the books--The Glass Castle and Echo--one of which we each had to read. Here's the funniest part about the whole evening--we probably spent 5, 10 minutes, tops, talking about those specific books. And then we went back to talking about other books. But hey, we all read the books we were supposed to. None of us had to get the fuck out. 

The evening was a long one, filled with lots of conversation. I talked--I'm good at that--but I also spent a lot of time listening and observing these women. We ranged in age, from 34 to 44. All of these lovely ladies sported sparkling diamond rings on their wedding ring finger. Most of them spoke of children. All of them spoke pretty lovingly about their husbands, their shared lives and interests. 

What is that? Speaking to these women, I felt like I was catching a glimpse of some sort of weird, parallel universe. Like I was this close to being one of these women, but for some quirk, some twist of timing and fate, I missed the boat that was sailing towards Normal Life Isle.

Do I miss that sort of life? Sometimes I do. That night, I did.

I read to hear stories about other people, to gain insights, to re-learn empathy, to travel outside my own head, to ponder different possibilities. And that night last week--and many nights in the future, I hope--I didn't need the books to ponder different possibilities. Those lovely ladies gave me a glimpse into another world. I'm not sure I want that world, but I'm not turning away from it just yet, either. And I'm definitely not going to get the fuck out. 

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