We are missing two members in our 10th anniversary picture...because it's hard to get 12 schedules to align sometimes! But we still try...ten years after I first invited a bunch of people to my house for a book club. I told my friends last night that one of the foundational reasons for this book club's creation is that I was lonely. I had friends, but I didn't have what I wanted:
I was a mom to a 1-year-old and I was teaching full-time, and I wanted to find creativity and joy in my life: So, here came this idea about a book club. We gathered, we embraced each other's messiness, and we learned that books could be just the beginning.
What I figured out was that we'd all found each other at the perfect time. We grew up in the era of the cool girl definition perpetuating the misogynistic myth that a group of women can't be friends without competition or back-stabbing. Or some of us did. And what we found was a community, a tribe, a powerhouse of personality and a foundation of friendship that has lasted now for a decade.
Last night, I read to our book club the first blog I wrote about them: Book club started the same year that I wrote Around the World in 80 Books...and that blog serves as a time-capsule to our burgeoning friendships. My enthusiasm for this group of women has not changed--I feel as strongly passionate about them now as I did during our first meeting ten years ago. And the difference is that we have now grown-up and lived together and experienced the tumult of a decade in life. We've listened through break-ups and celebrated marriages (twice in Mexico!), we've lost jobs and dreams, we added fourteen children (!), most of us have experienced great loss in that time--saying goodbye to grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents. We've helped say goodbye to a book club member's baby, too. And how much of that could we have predicted? Imagined? Entertained?
To deny book club its importance (to belittle these groups of women as wine groups or gossip groups -- as is so often seen in media depictions) is to forget that we have now lived our lives together...it's denying the truth of women and friendship: that this is the fabric that holds the universe together. These twelve women do not always have to agree. Sometimes we get annoyed with each other. We have to traverse misunderstandings and own our hurtful words no matter our intention; we have to do everything we can to be authentic and lay ourselves bare, which is risky. Because we know, of course, we know, how much relationships can hurt. We know the work needed to keep coming back, checking in, adapting as our worlds shift. Yes, this happened, but we made it happen -- we chose this to happen.
We risk it because we love each other.
Love is different than anything else; love is what you have after a decade of togetherness. These women are my family and I love them fiercely. I loved celebrating them last night and I look forward to our 2030 celebration already.
Book Challenge Update:
Finished two books this week. Inheritance by Dani Shapiro and Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes.
Inheritance: I am going to wait to write about this book in more detail at a different date. This was Matthew's Jolabokaflod gift and he finished it in less than 24-hours, and it reinforced my oft-repeated statement to my students that, "You don't hate reading, you just haven't found the right book!" This memoir about a women who discovers via an AncestryDNA kit that her father was not her biological father is a riveting read. Her ability to capture the nuances of emotions as she processes the origins of her creation is a gift, I think, to the hundreds of thousands of children who are learning for the first time that they, too, do not share DNA with the parents that raised them. Shapiro captures a time and an era of secrecy and shame. To say more is to spoil the memoir's path.
Evvie Drake Starts Over: Easy, breezy, fun. This is a paint-by-numbers cozy romance set in Maine is exactly what you expect it to be and exactly what you need. It has the added bonus of being well-written with interesting characters. This is the book we read for book club this month; the general consensus is that it's very Gilmore Girls-esque, so if you like that feel (witty, fast-talking people, charmingly working through life), this is a perfect read!!
Next up: Juliet Takes a Breath; Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.