I have this friend named Megan Mayhew Bergman. Well, I'm not being truthful, really. Her primary role in my life is as an object of envy (I think she'll understand when she reads this, which she will. I know because we're internet friends, mostly, although we went to grad school together): she is beautiful and kind; she's married to a veteranarian; she had two adorable and feisty daughters; and she just published a completely wonderful short story collection about man's animal nature. See for yourself, and see if you do not feel envy. I love her from a distance and close-up both. Those people are rare. On this night, I drove up to Burlington for a Museum conference. I left in such a rush that I forgot all of my underwear. I missed the first snowfall in Connecticut by mere minutes. It was a hell of a day-- I got there, presented on social media, and after my presentation suddenly found that I was really in Vermont. I put maple syrup in my coffee and headed to a bookstore where, coincidentally, Megan was reading that night. She'd come hours to be there, I'd come hours to be at the conference-- I was thrilled our very wayward paths crossed.
I found her between the natural foods cookbooks and the books on animal skeletons, and it was equally likely that she'd be looking at either. She had a terrible cold and seemed like she'd been through a long book tour. Megan read a new story to a crowd of seven or eight of us, and in the middle another friend from our graduate program, pregnant as hell, burst into the bookstore and listened.
After the reading was over I opened all the pages of her books to the title page where she'd sign. Dayna, the other friend, bought us hot chocolates and coffees and we talked for a few minutes about our three divergent lives. "You have such a wonderful life," Megan said to me, unprompted. Stunned by the fact that someone I worship could possibly feel this way, I replied that she did, too, and I felt one of those very rare moments of appreciation that bursts on you like a good wave. I belly-surfed it in and tried not to hit that rough sand: but... but... I haven't done this and that. And for that night, with three friends all in the midst of trying to do one very simple and very difficult thing-- be a writer-- I hung onto that wave in the only way you can. Lightly. Without paddling.
I have this friend. She is wonderful, and you should really read her book Birds of a Lesser Paradise.
"Drive safe," we all said, walking with our hot drinks in three entirely different directions.