On what a cup of tea can do.
Last week, one of our area book clubs announced they'd be diving into Joyce DeMille's memoir, Growing Up in 1940's War-Torn England. The store was almost out of books -- Joyce is one of our most popular local writers -- so it was time to reorder. And while it's typical for regional authors to drop off copies of their books at the store, this time, I decided to pick up Joyce's books myself. We chatted on the phone, finalized our plans, and last Friday, I paid Joyce DeMille a visit. I spent two hours drinking English tea and watching turtles sunbathe near her dock.
Here is the truth: Bookselling is harder than it looks. Small business ownership is even harder. And moving to a new town, making new friends? Yep, those go in the "harder than they look" column, too. But last Friday, I forgot all about bill pay and tax season and our weekend plans. Instead, I got lost in the memories of a 91-year-old woman who's seen so much more of the world than I have -- literally and figuratively. We talked about technology and work and raising families; we swapped stories about moving and misunderstanding Southern accents; we made each other laugh out loud.
It doesn't surprise me that I can thank a book for my new friendship. This is what books do: They introduce us to quirky characters and new ideas. They help us forget our own hardships and focus on the adventures of others. They get us outside of ourselves and -- as Atticus FInch put it -- into someone else's skin. I guess what I'm saying is maybe read Joyce DeMille's memoir. Do yourself a favor and visit a neighbor. Discover a new friend. Climb into someone else's skin for a bit. It will do you good, I promise.