Before I unpack my suitcase, throw in a load of laundry or take the dog for a walk, I want to tell you about…
Oops. I had to take Finn for a walk—this puppy could less care if I’m writing a blog. Why am I surprised? If you ever want a writing focus challenge, let me lend you our puppy. If he sees you typing for more than ten minutes, his bladder activates.
Our cat, Reina, is standoffish, but her cuddle/kiss mechanisms activate when she sees me typing. She, too, is available for a writing focus challenge loan. For free.
Last yesterday afternoon I arrived home from a writer’s dream…four-day weekend at the Seaview Hotel in Galloway—hours and hours of snap fiction writing with excellent teacher/author Richard K. Weems, too much good food, seven a.m. dips in the pool (indoor!) and loads of great company, especially my fellow workshop writer/friend, Kay Peters.
Over two hundred writers from all over the USA and the world attended the getaway. I felt lucky that I knew a good dozen or so people from various workshops, but I did other meet people in the cab from the train station, at meals and in my snap fiction group.
I expected nothing less and nothing more from an outstanding Peter Murphy’s Winter Getaway. No disappointments. But, I didn’t expect any surprises.
But, at Sunday night dinner, a woman rushed to my table and said excitedly, “I can’t believe it’s you! I’ve been searching everywhere for you since Friday night. I’ve found you!”
She didn’t look like a detective, a debt-collector or the FBI. I stuffed more tender, juicy roast beef into my mouth in case she was going to take me away and there wouldn’t be any roast beef where I was going.
“You live in Camden still. I saw your name and city on the participant list. I grew up in Cramer Hill and there’s another woman here, too, who grew up in Cramer Hill!” (Having grown up in the Cramer Hill section of Camden is VERY SPECIAL. Still living there is VERY, VERY, VERY SPECIAL.)
I swallowed the beef without chewing it. “I’m in Cramer Hill!” I told her. I stood up. We embraced. Tribe members.
Whoa! How could this be? What were the odds? How could three fabulous Cramer Hill natives/writers/women all end up in this writing conference in this dining room in Galloway, New Jersey?
She led me to the other member of the Cramer Hill tribe. The three of us had grown up within a few blocks of each other. One is younger in her early fifties and one is in her early seventies and I’m in my early sixties. (Although all of us look and feel like we are in our Cramer Hill teens… Okay. A little fiction.)
We didn’t go to school at the same time, but have common memories of people and places, especially Veterans Junior High School, Woodrow Wilson High. In decent weather, my husband and I walk past the former home of one of the writers and I told her that it was my favorite Cramer Hill house and garden and I never had known who had lived there. We hugged each other good-bye and plan to keep in touch.
I got to watch the very ending of the getaway, a heart-wrenching program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. Malala Yousafzai and Mona Mahmudnizhad, not alone (my buddy, Kay, had left) but with one of my Cramer Hill writing tribe.
Life never stops offering surprises.