On Wednesday I went with a friend to see Anne Lamott for the third time in about ten years.
There were thoughts of meeting other friends for drinks before we went to see her but it is November. It is the season of cold and dark and hibernation rather than random acts of frivolity. One thing a night, Friend and I decided. Only one thing and then we can go home to our pajamas and warm bed.
All along I wondered if seeing the same writer three times was a good idea. Even though she's my favorite author, was I tempting fate and maybe falling out of love with her if she, too, showed up with the same November apathy that I was wearing?
Thankfully she was not, and although she tends to look like she rolled out of bed and picked her outfit up off the floor, she brought her energy and love even if she had to dig deep on an exhausting book tour to find it. In her rumpled, dreadlocked self she stood on stage and told her stories. She is funny. Hilariously funny in the most self-deprecating way that makes her all the more endearing. In between the funny is the profound, and if you know about her younger self you also know that her physical, emotional and spiritual well-being were hard fought for and never taken for granted.
She read a little from her latest book, skimming some stories and at one point going back and saying, "Oh wait. I have to read this part. I love this part." I got teary-eyed when she said that. Years of writing, millions of books sold and she sounded like so many of us sitting there who become charmed by the magic that happens when the sequence of words is just so.
That sealed my fate with Anne LaMott. I will remain her groupie for a lifetime.
The next day at work I emailed a friend telling her about my night. "There were so many good stories, Gee," I wrote, "but my favorite was about the bees." She related the story her pastor tells of how easy it is to catch bees. "All you do is put some nectar in a glass jar and you've got them. They crawl around bumping into the sides over and over until they eventually die. They never look up and if they did they'd see the escape hatch is right above them. We have to remember to look up. That's where the stars are."
Gee wrote back. "I love that....really love that."
"I know, Gee. Right? We have to stop running into the same walls doing the same thing. We have to look up and find the stars."
And then Gee had the most brilliant plan. Let's find her. Let's find out where she lives, break into her house and hold her hostage. We could break her legs so she can't go anywhere and then make her tell us story after story. Let's do it. We should wear Depends for the road, don't you think? We want to get there as soon as we can and not worry about getting slowed down by pee stops at rest areas and gas stations where the creeps and felons hang out.
That Gee. Not only do her emails save me from feeling like I work in a coal mine every day, but she always has the best ideas even though they sometimes involve the possibility of consecutive sentences at the Big House.
"I'll bring the Capri Sun and the beef jerky," I wrote back.
A dismal, cold November has been replaced by something much more exciting. Two friends shedding the bees in their bonnets and looking up at the stars.
We owe it all to Anne.
We can't wait to tell her.