The Past and Other People

This month, for her book club (four ten-year old girls who have had a book club since kindergarten, it's pretty awesome, Beatrix picked my friend Kelly's book Magic, Madness, and Mischief. She and I had discussed it, and she wanted to read it because she knew Kelly, she was excited the book was set in Saint Paul, and she thought it would be cool to have her book club meet Kelly and ask him about the book (the fact we met in the cat cafe in Menomonie probably helped a little too).

Patrick, Beatrix and I read it aloud, round-robin style, which we have not done before — but we all wanted to experience the book. And I have to admit there were several times when I was glad my chapter twas over, because I was getting really choked up.

The books is a pretty thinly-veiled story of Kelly's own youth, at begins just at the time I met him (yes, I've known him for that long). The characters, and experiences, and especially the emotions brought back extraordinarily real memories, and often somewhat painful ones. Kelly and I were drawn together because our lives were in many ways very similar, and so reading this was, in many ways, was going back almost 40 years into my own past — and it's quite a thing to have your 10-year old daughter reading that.

It also put me on a nostalgia wave. A few years back, when my friend John's dad died, I remember being at the funeral and being so impressed by the things he and his sister Kristen said about their dad. And I realized then how much lifelong friends, and their families and extended networks,, mean to me, both in the past and the future. Kelly's book was a way to read that relationship, and to honor what it means.

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