At the writer's seminar Friday, John Paul DeMilo, who wrote about his experiences as a Massachusetts prison librarian, mentioned (as he had the week before) that he would be reading from his book at the Centerville Library on Saturday and said he hoped to see some people from the group. I asked Rachel for directions, she told me, I did not write it down but repeated the left, left, right, right. Saturday morning didn't so much dawn as dump. Deep gray sky, serious rain all morning. I had plenty to do and argued with myself all morning about whether to go to the reading at 1:30.
I remembered too vividly going to read from my book in Rockville, S.C. at a bookstore where the wonderful Dottie Moore had arranged the event. It was pouring. No one came into the bookstore (a sweet small one near the little college.) NO one, the librarian was there, Dottie was there and I was there. No customers of any sort arrived let alone potential listeners or book buyers. Thinking of that I didn't want John Paul to have such an awful experience, he seems a nice man. Even lousy writers should not have such an experience. At 1:00 the sky lightened somewhat and the rain slackened. I threw on some presentable clothes and went out. Rachel's directions were perfect.
When I arrive half a dozen people were there as well as John Paul and the librarian, a few more arrived, perhaps ten in all -- which is, unfortunately, a reasonable number of people for such an event. He read and paused for some discussion now and then; it was a good hour and a half. Among the chapters he read was a short one about the oldest wooden jail in the US -- a national heritage site, the old Barnstable jail (picture above), build by the Plymouth Counsel [I think that was the official body]. Long since out of use, of course. Bought as historic site, moved and now restored.
No one else from the writing group was there -- no surprise. A sense of mutual support is generally not a quality of people who write, at least not in this sort of setting. I think it a shame but I felt the tug of inertia strongly too. I try not to add tothe general weight of human indifference to others.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!