Since moving here life has done a 180. Yesterday was a perfect example.
I joined the library's writer's group that meets every Thursday for 3 hours. It was amazing to walk into a room of strangers and be welcome. People gathered round to introduce themselves and ask about my writing experience, the books I was currently reading and why I'd chosen to move to this area. I was so stunned I teared up.
It seems my friend Deb has been talking me up. "She's written for newspapers and she's always listened to me talk about my writing. You'll all really like her."
To put this in context, I've known Deb since I first moved to this area 30 years ago and she was recommended as a babysitter. She was married with three kids and didn't work outside the home. I was single, had three kids and worked for GM.
We're about as different from one another as two women could get. She left school in the 9th grade; I have 3.5 years of college. She's been in an abusive marriage for 35 years; I would have killed him. She's the youngest of four; I'm the oldest of four. She has very little self confidence; mine could be tempered at times. But somehow we've been supportive of one another.
Deb joined the writing group because she realized she needed something to do now that her children had all left the nest. "I felt like I didn't have a mind left," she said. "I thought writing would help me think."
She cannot spell or punctuate but she keeps trying. She has so much enthusiasm for writing that she sent a story to a vanity publisher. Of course, it was published. She was so proud of being an author that she sent me a copy. I had to restrain myself from taking a red pen to every page.
Everyone at the writing group has read her book and they've all realized the same thing I have. It's a terrible piece of work. Despite that, it has given her a new sense of purpose, pride and determination that no amount of counseling, crying, praying or demanding has ever done.
During our meeting the group's leader gave us a series of writing exercises which we then read to the group. Members responses were amazing. Laughter, jokes and respectful critiques filled the air.
My email was added to the member list. As of this morning I've heard from all but two of the group.
I am still amazed that we get phone calls from live people other than telemarketers.
When we needed to pick up truck parts Deb gave me a ride. When we needed help unloading the U-Haul, help was here. We've been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner - the first holiday invite we've had in two years, maybe more.
While we're up north for the last load, someone will be here taking care of our cat and watching the house.
When we go grocery shopping or stop at the gas station people stop and talk. The librarian knew who I was when I asked for a library card. She even offered a list of books she thought I'd be interested in based on what Deb had told her.
I could go on and on about how welcome we feel. It's such a contrast to being ignored and left out and judged on our past, our location, our lifestyle, our ages and whatever other determinations had been made about us.
And something else I just remembered. At the writing group someone mentioned a wringer washer in her story. Deb laughed and said I could identify with that because I had one. The most elder of the writers group looked up and said, "Have you ever made your own laundry soap?" When I said, "Yes and I still do," no one laughed.