Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Book Club

One of the other moms in my daughter, Shana’s, first grade class collects friends like she collects husbands, so when she invited me to her book club, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had just finished graduate school and was sick of reading stuff with ten page long bibliographies, so when I met the eclectic, wild bunch, I knew they were perfect for me. That first meeting seems like just yesterday, but Shana’s heading off to college next year, so it’s been like, what, eleven years? Eleven times twelve months is 132, so that’s 132 books and we’re still going strong.

We cover everything from light and fluffy beach books to classics, biographies, and even a few Oprah selections, each one perfectly scrapbooked by our leader who is so organized that she alphabetizes her warrantees. Whenever somebody asks me what I’m reading I always say, “Well, we’re reading…” before I can stop myself. This month it’s Eat, Pray, Love, which, by the way, is amazing. We’ve argued for hours over which book to pick, we’ve tried voting and one time we even let one person select all the books for an entire year. That’ll never happen again.

The group has evolved over time - losing a few divas and gaining some more. Some people just couldn’t hang on and deal with all of our drama. After a particularly vicious hissy fit at 3:00am a few years back, we almost split up into two groups, one serious and one social, but thank God that blew over. So once a month I still race out of the house and yell, “I’m going to book club,” to my husband, Shawn, and Shana. They know that it’s my “me” time. I know that it’s a support group, marriage therapy, parenting class and career counseling all wrapped up into one.

After we read the book The Red Tent, I announced that Shana had just had her first period, so we gave her a Red Tent party. We surrounded the poor kid on a dark night out in the desert and read her poems and stories and told her things we wished somebody had told us when we were growing up. She was totally embarrassed, but as I looked around I saw the village you hear about that it takes to raise a child. The book club is my village and I love that Shana has seen me run around with this group of intelligent, creative women all these years.

One of the book clubbers, who recently left her short, bald husband and now jokes about the adorable cowboy she found on Match.com, calls us a drinking club with a reading problem and it’s true, we do like to have a good time. There have been trips to Mexico, Las Vegas, birthday lunches, a sock hop, Happy Hours, limo rides, Christmas tea at the Ritz, slumber parties, and even a male stripper named Bo. The main event, though, regardless of the book, is our monthly gathering around somebody’s table, pages flipping, candles burning, wine flowing and a chance to finally breathe.

The books are now a lot less important than the readers. We’ve been through a lot and our lives rival some of the more complicated characters that we study. For every book we’ve read, we’ve lived a real-life marriage, divorce, birth, cancer, adoption, or bad haircut. We don’t always fit in. We don’t always like each other. But we’ve made a connection and woven together so much of our lives that we could fill our own book.

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