Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The wonderful Anne Lamott

You all know the writer Anne Lamott, right? You must. Crooked Little Heart, Operating Instructions, Bird by Bird, a few books with Thoughts on Faith in the titles, and more ... if you haven't read her, you need to. Go ahead, go order one of her books right now -- better yet, run down to your local independent bookstore and buy one. It's OK, I'll wait.


All set?

So, there's something about her, something about her writing. She makes me laugh and cry, sometimes at once. Her books amaze me. Even if I start one feeling "eh, not her best ... " her writing and her characters and what she says about the world ... they nail me; it's somethin' else.

So I got to hear her speak tonight, for free. Courtesy of my favorite local independent bookstore. She was (is) amazing. She made me laugh and cry. I don't even know why the tears; she just touched me. She talked about her own recovery and alcoholism and drug use and parenting and kids today, so many kids in serious trouble. She said a few years ago, she just decided to talk about it, to start and keep talking about it, because so many of us are growing up in families full of pain and messed-up-ness where we all have these unspoken agreements to not talk about the hard and terrible things. Which destroys us all from the inside out. These aren't her words; she was much more eloquent and funny. But isn't there an amazing power and simplicity to saying -- "Hey, all these problems, that're starting and continuing because we don't talk about the hard stuff? I'm gonna talk about the hard stuff." I deeply love that.

She talked and told stories for 15 or 20 minutes, then read from her new book, Imperfect Birds. Comes from a line of a Rumi poem, something about how we're all imperfect birds, taking each other into our nests.

You know how there are some people in the world who just make you feel better that they're in it? Who make you feel hope for people and the planet and remind you life is a good thing, even if heartbreaking, even while heartbreaking? She's one of them. When I hit dark times, sometimes I know I just need to read her books. Because they make me laugh and cry and break my heart and give me hope.

After her reading, after hitting the bathroom, I walked outside into the still-light early evening, and since it was some crazy 80-something degrees today, it was wonderful out. I decided to walk down the block, get some ice cream, sit and eat it in a little grassy area. Just sit outside and eat some ice cream in the world, you know? I almost got one of my all-time favorites: coconut frozen yogurt with chocolate sprinkles, but the coconut yogurt machine up and died just in time for my order. So it goes sometimes.

So I sat outside, ate my oreo yogurt with chocolate sprinkles, watched all the people outside, the happy dogs, and felt good about the world. And remembered how much I love (lovelove) Boston summer evenings. They're wonderful. Today was just a taste, but we'll be there soon. They just make you feel good, make you want to be out in them. Make you feel like a kid on summer vacation again. Make you feel nostalgia for past summer nights, and even for your right-now night, even though it hasn't yet passed.

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