We’re thrilled to have Meg Waite Clayton guest blog this week. Meg’s national bestseller, The Wednesday Sisters, has been selected by major book club programs including the Target Stores Bookmarked program and the Borders Book Club program. Her first novel, The Language of Light, was a Bellwether Prize finalist, and her third, The Ms Bradwells, is forthcoming from Ballantine Books. Her stories and essays have been read on public radio and performed on stage in dramatic reading, and have appeared in anthologies and magazines including Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest, and the Literary Review. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Michigan Law School, and lives with her family in Palo Alto, California.
If you haven’t read Meg’s novel, The Wednesday Sisters, treat yourself to this gem of a book about a group of women who cheer on and support each other as they all pursue their dream of writing (sound familiar, Debs?) And be sure to visit Meg’s website for interviews with authors and other great posts.
Dropping the Turkey
The memory Thanksgiving is calling up for me lately is the year I didn’t come home. It was my third year of law school, my first turkey trot (three miles in 26:00; even then I wasn’t fast), and indeed my first crack at making a turkey myself. It may or may not have been the turkey who visited the floor on his way to the platter—a metaphor for my life, perhaps.
What I do remember from that Thanksgiving is a gang of friends filling the chairs and couches around a small coffee table that worked as well as any swanky dining room table I’ve eaten turkey at before or since. Not a single one was “family” in the traditional sense. And when I look at the photos from that day two things strike me:
What is my then-boyfriend’s arm doing in a sling? (Is he perhaps the turkey in my metaphor?)
While two of us in that Thanksgiving photo were from California, a long way to go for such a short holiday right before finals, most us shunned easy drives to our homes to spend this most family of holidays together.
I know part of the reason that particular Thanksgiving haunts me this year is that I have a son in college, one who has spent every Thanksgiving of his life eating mashed potatoes and monkey bread with me. He’s coming home this year even though he has finals looming as closely as I did in law school, but I know the day is coming when he will choose to share Thanksgiving with someone else. I’m not sure that I ever realized until now how much my own parents must have missed my absence that Thanksgiving I first didn’t come home, even with the chairs filled by my brothers and cousins and friends. I can and do imagine it in my fiction, now, though. It’s something I find myself writing about more and more as my children leave me: motherhood.
Then there’s the fact that I’ve been living for the past year in that same house on Division Street in Ann Arbor where I made that first turkey. I’ve been sitting on the ratty couch on the front porch, and rolling up the living room rug to dance. Not literally living, but writing-living. Not even me doing the living, but a character in a novel I’m writing, who may or may not bear some resemblance to me—in ways I will no doubt deny. It’s a moment I long to go back to, friends I don’t see often enough, and whom I dearly miss. We’ve all gone our separate ways, but in revisiting that time in my writing, I’m allowed the blessing of luxuriating in old photographs and memories and calling it “work.”
I have so many things to be thankful for this year: My health and that of those I hold dear: my family (including a brother who cooks two turkeys, who may or may not drop them; if he does I won’t tell!); my friends, many of whom I shared a lovely weekend back in Ann Arbor with me this fall, all of whom support my writing dreams; a new group of New York friends who’ve made a great success of The Wednesday Sisters, and bought the novel I’m writing, the one with the ratty Division Street couch, as well; and time to write, time to observe the world around me, to question it, yes, but also to appreciate, to remember, and to dream.