Friends

Absent Friends

http://www.crl.nsw.gov.au/services/readers-corner/book-clubs/

It meant a lot to me to be invited to join a book club, even though I had only a vague idea of what was expected of me. I had never been in a book club before. The first time I went to a meeting I arrived too early and brought wine and food. I thought it was kind of like a party. It was gently explained to me that meetings were held in a different group member’s house each month, and the host provided snacks and drinks. It was less like a party and more like a very social debate.

I enjoyed being introduced to books I would not otherwise have read, and I learned a lot from hearing other people’s reactions to them. I also liked the socializing that happened after we had talked about books. Those conversations were always engaging and friendly. My book club buddies have interesting lives! Yes, there is a lot that I miss.

It was at a book club meeting that I realized my hearing was declining. I found that when more than one person spoke at a time I couldn’t hear what was said by any one. So, I was missing out on a lot that was said, but that triggered me to get my hearing checked. It took a while, but I have now made an appointment to do that.

The group sometimes went on trips that were out of my budget range, and I had to reluctantly decline nearly all of those opportunities. On the other hand I was able to participate in annual book club planning retreats which I enjoyed. I had never before been on trips that were not family affairs or work-related conferences. Walking around a strange town or city with a group of friends has been a rare experience, and I remember those weekends fondly.

Last year, my book club had planned a retreat in Banff and at first I had said I would go, then as I was in the midst of the drama of selling my house and all the stress that entailed, I changed my mind. I said I wouldn’t go, and then I moved away. So, my book club and I seem to have parted ways.  I was willing to drive back to go to meetings while I am in Alberta, but that hasn’t happened and I miss them.

A couple of the members are among my Facebook friends, and sometimes they post on there, so the silence between us isn’t absolute. Also, some former members who have moved away have sent out emails to everyone who has been a part of the group and I am still on that mailing list.

Perhaps there is a book club in my new location that would welcome a snowbird as a member. I would enjoy going to a monthly meetup to talk about books. The funny thing is, I’m not all that good at it; my analyses are usually quite superficial. Mostly I like spending time with people who like to read. I also like having a reason to socialize, otherwise I tend to enjoy my own company far too much.

All things considered, I miss my book club because they put up with all my shortcomings and insecurities. They also introduced me to lots of great books, and to the concept of an all-female social group. They made me welcome and drew me out of my shell for a while. They even did their best to involve me in their meetings via Skype when I wasn’t able to attend in person.  If I ever get another chance to join a group like that, I’m going to do a better job of being a friend. I might even do a better job of literary criticism. Well, you never know. Anything is possible!

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Image source: http://www.crl.nsw.gov.au/services/readers-corner/book-clubs/

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