readingAt Nancy and Dan’s suggestion we decided to take our two small children on the ten hour, scenic journey to Seattle instead of the five hour, equally scenic to people from Texas, journey. That’s just what the kids get for having writers for parents, and what we imagined this part of the journey would be included our children getting drenched in waterfalls and moose sightings and snow angels in August. And do you know what? That’s what we got. We even ate the snow we found at the side of the road, knowing full well it was not the kind of snow meant for eating. But again: it was August. We saw the snow, we ate the snow. It made up for about two of those extra driving hours.

A few hours later we were gallivanting with my friend’s Dana and Finus and their kids Max and Zoe on the outdoor patio of a fancy Seattle condo building. Then the kids were asleep and we were relaxing with Morgan and Irene and baby Judah in their bungalow on MLK Boulevard. This is the little family whose marriage brought us to the Northwest in the first place. Lila asked Irene if Baby Judah was her family, and though we had all been apart a long time, we all became family again. Magic stuff, the words of children.

The audience at the reading at Elliott Bay the next night was like a warped version of This is Your Life: there was Holli from Bonneville Elementary, my aunts Mary and Melinda who I’ve only met a few times, Kiersten from High School, Britta and Dana from different parts of my life at Carleton College, Dana’s parents, Jake from St. Olaf and Northfield and post college road trips, and Emily from my MFA, and Irene and Morgan who I met getting my Ph.D. There were a handful of people I didn’t know, too. Of this group two people had read the early drafts of the novel. It made the whole event spectacular, and fun, and the energy in the room was crackling. I felt lucky and grateful to have this visual map of the people I’m made up of in front of me and bemused and surprised they were all here in a town that I have never lived in.

We celebrated this glee with Britta and Kiersten and Irene and Holli, afterwards. It was one of those nights in your life where you leave amazed that you’ve known such different and inspiring friends. In my first post I said I am the kind of person who can’t sign her name the same way twice, and there was a subtext in my head that meant: this means I always have to learn everything new and that is annoying about me, and hard to live with because it takes to much time to not remember rituals or rules or signatures, but it is me and I know it. This is a negative in a lot of life, but when it comes to how it has effected who my friends are it is a boon.

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