I’ve started the long process of saying goodbye to my life in the States. I’m not yet really excited about going to Israel–stressed and freaked and so tired of the process already is more like it. I have started a mental list of things that I won’t miss. Most of them involve parking a minivan in various too-small, overcrowded, busy parking lots with weird angles.
Last night was my final book club meeting. Actually, I am in two book clubs, but this was the first one that I joined, back in 2005.
It saved my life, a little.
In July of 2005, my La Leche group had its annual summer picnic. We veered slightly out of the neighborhood, to the home of a member who had a backyard and a wading pool. At the end of the picnic, my hostess was bemoaning the leftover food, but said, “Oh, it’s ok, I’ll bring it to my book club tonight.” To which I said, “Book club? Can I join?” Very out of character for me, the wallflower, but Julia was very friendly (read: Canadian).
The next month I did. I loved it. Most of its members were neighbors to each other (and my La Leche friend) and genuinely liked each other. Some also connected through gardening, through their jobs, through their neighborhood association. People came and went through the years, but there were at least a dozen mainstays of various ages, from people in their late 30s to retirees in their 70s. I was the “baby” of the group, which, honestly, I loved. Here were people who had once had small kids and had lived through it and were intact and could still talk about books and be intellectual. Many of them were teachers–ranging from preschool to college–or librarians. There were four couples, three straight and one gay, who came singly and in pairs.
I loved that monthly disconnect from my kids. (Although AM did attend two or three meetings with me when he was tiny.) Two whole hours when I was totally free to be myself again, the person who could talk about characters and symbols and use three syllable words and be sarcastic and laugh loud and tease the sweet curmudgeon who always wanted to read Plato and Freud instead of contemporary fiction.
I loved being forced back into the adult world, to shake myself free of board books and What To Expect and even my beloved Ask Moxie. I spent part of every Shabbat reading my own book. In front of my kids. I would read to them, of course, but then I would say, “Now Ema is going to read her book and drink her tea.” And I did. Frankly, I think I set a good example, because now they do the same. They love to be read to, but are equally likely to dump a clump of books on the floor, sit in the middle of them, and page through them in silence.
I drove there in the rain, the snow, the light of June evenings. Usually skipped March, because Taxman was working ’til midnight. But, really, what a find.
I will miss it.