In retrospect, I should have made up a list of pseudonyms for my friends--or just referred to them by first name. I met a friend for dinner last night--in some posts, I've called her my Hindu friend, in some my writing friend, in some, I've referred to books we're reading together. When I first started blogging in 2008, I wanted to protect everyone's privacy. Do I still need to do that?
But I don't want to explore that topic this morning. This morning, I want to remember the wonderful dinner we had last night. We met at Panera, one of our favorite places, where we can both find something to eat. We had both read Margaret Drabble's The Dark Flood Rises, and we wanted to discuss it.
We both loved it, which makes a discussion much easier for me. My friend asked a provocative question: which character would you most like to be? Or, alternately, which character is most like you? We agreed that Josephine is the one to be: she lives in a lovely senior home designed to make residents feel like they're back in college, she has a research project, she reads, on and on I could go. We agreed that Fran is not who we want to be: driving all over England, living in a slightly seedy walk-up apartment, making meals for her ex-husband--who has a nurse, for pity's sake!
We talked about these characters who seem to be closer to friends who are nearby than to family--the subject of the children of these women might be fascinating, but we didn't really discuss them. My friend asked if geography makes our families. It's an important question. Right now, my family members can all fly to each other relatively easily--what happens when that changes?
My friend seemed slightly appalled at the way the mothers in the novel have just let their children go to lead far-flung lives. She has a daughter in law school, and I chose not to have children. I know that she hopes to live close to her daughter and even to provide child care as the years go on, if there are grandchildren (that if clause is mine; most parents I know assume that their children will have children).
We talked about whether or not the book is ultimately sad--while it's a madcap, funny tour of the different types of old age we see around us, ultimately, it's not a pleasant view of growing older. Has such a book been written? We couldn't think of any.
Should we write one? Can we? We're both about 20 years younger than Drabble's protagonists. I am loving the collection of short stories that I'm writing, so I'll keep working on that: Activists at 50. My friend thought that was a great title. She encouraged me to send it out. I keep thinking I still have stories to write--but I will always think that.
This week-end I'll see how many pages I have--just out of curiosity.
Of course, even if I decide the collection is ready to send out--to whom shall I send it? Once I would have had a long list. Now, I just don't know.
The skies had been darkening with storm clouds, so we called it a night. As we drove away from each other, the skies opened up and the rain swept over the road. Luckily, as I drove east, I drove out of it.
I kept my eyes on the road, but I really wanted to be watching the skies, where dark clouds swirled and advanced and blew here and there. It looked like a movie scene. But I knew that if I looked up, I'd be lost in both wonder and terror. I want to make it to old age, not to be dead on the highway, so I hurried onward and made it home before the storms got to my part of the county.
I slept soundly--ah, the joys of a nourishing evening, spent with a good friend, discussing a good book. In so many ways, we are like Drabble characters--but let me save that subject for another day. But let me record one last thought: is it time to revisit The Radiant Way? I last read it on a trip to England in 2003. Maybe I should revisit those characters--are they the age I am now? Hmmm.
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