Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Homecoming weekend

March 22, 2017

Maybe you can’t go home again. But sometimes, if you’re extraordinarily lucky, you get to stop by for a gratifying visit. That’s how lucky I was last weekend, when I returned to Vermont to celebrate the publication of my first book in twelve years – titled, appropriately enough, Are We Still Friends?


Just a fraction of the crowd at The Flying Pig

During the two decades my family lived in Burlington, we laid down a wide network of deep roots. Between neighbors, school and library connections, local politics, synagogue, kid-lit circles, David’s work at UVM and mine at Seven Days newspaper, we got attached to an awful lot of people. When we moved to Rhode Island 10 years ago, an awful lot of those friends stayed in Vermont. And thanks to the magic of the interwebs, we’ve been able to keep in touch.


With Chris Tebbets and Joe Nusbaum, one half of my online critique group…in the flesh!

When my son’s preschool sweetheart had a baby, I saw the pictures. When writers I’d edited and mentored wrote great articles and published books, I kvelled. I followed friends’ and allies political and professional careers, commiserated over deaths, watched kids grow up, go away to school and start careers….and through it all, kept our Vermont peeps up to date about our milestones. Needless to say, when the baby I’d held as a newborn got ready to became a bat mitzvah just a few weeks after my book was to be released, I jumped at the chance to share both events with my old friends.


With Elizabeth Bluemle children’s author and bookseller extraordinaire

The bat mitzvah was on Saturday, so I arranged to do a book launch at Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne on Sunday. I posted the event on Facebook and Twitter, and wrote about it on my children’s writer website. I made up special postcards and sent them to 100 people, including personalized notes; if I knew the name of someone’s grandchild, I used it. In some cases, I followed up with emails.


It felt a little bit like my old days in politics — trying to accurately ID likely voters and then make sure they vote. And it was almost as nerve-wracking. What if they held an election, I mean, a book-signing, and nobody came? I lost some sleep and suffered through some stomach cramps. But that turned out to be all I suffered. The folks at Flying Pig were as welcoming and well-organized as any bookstore people I’ve ever worked with. More importantly, though, my friends came through. Like crazy.


With my wonderful friend Trish Hanson, the entomologist behind Breakout at the Bug Lab

They just kept pouring in through the door, each with a huge grin and a big hug. It was actually sort of overwhelming. But in the very best possible way. I am stunned and thrilled and oh, so very grateful to everyone who came – and to those who couldn’t make it, but wanted to. (We would have found a way to squeeze you into that room, but we wouldn’t have had enough books.)


Thank you all for still being my friends! I sure hope you like the book!



What I Meant To Tell You

September 12, 2012

Dear Josh,

Thank you.

I’m better at writing than at speaking, and better at showing what I mean by my actions than by saying aloud what I mean. You were an excellent reader – not just of texts, but also of people. So I’m pretty sure you got the message. But I’ll try to spell it out for you, just in case.

Thank you for being such an excellent friend, and for inspiring us to be the best friends to you that we could be.

Thank you for your stories, the stories that were true, and the stories that were truly stories.

Thank you for your extraordinary knowledge and your outrageous imagination, for you serious outlook and your superb sense of humor.

Thank you for your curiosity, and your eagerness to spark and satisfy ours.

Thank you for loving life so much, and so well. Whenever I drink Sancerre, see a play at the Gamm, jump the waves in Narragansett, listen to the Bach cello suites, or hear anyone mention the unexpectedness of the Spanish Inquisition, I’ll think of you.

Thank you for your staunch skepticism, and for your staunch loyalty to community and tradition.

Thank you for being so open, honest and articulate about the sorts of things the rest of us are too shy to be open, honest and articulate about.

Thank you for your politics.

Thank you for being such a sweetly and unabashedly devoted husband, and such a proud father and father-in-law.

Thank you for sharing our pride in our children, even when you had never met them.

Thank you for turning so many of our visits, this difficult last year, into small celebrations. By squeezing so much life and love out of these last months, you forced us to do the same. For as long as you were able, you made us leave your side feeling better than when we’d arrived. During lots of those visits, I laughed as long and as hard and as satisfyingly as I can ever remember laughing with anyone.

Thank you for weaving such a wide and strong network of friends, which connected lots of us to people we wouldn’t have met without you.

Thank you for enduring what you did for as long as you did, so you could stay with us for as long as you could, and for saying goodbye with such grace.

Thank you for bringing and keeping us close.