I’d like you to be the first to know that I’m going to move my family to Guilford, Connecticut, preferable to a house that’s right on the Green, and across the street from the Guilford Free Library, which is where I am at this exact moment.
The only trouble is that I can’t actually move, having a job I like in San Francisco, and a husband with a job HE likes in the Bay Area, and three children in schools they like in Berkeley and a dog, well, the dog could move to Guilford. Maybe. The thing is, though, he has a friend in the neighborhood, a sporty dog named Dash, who can actually play with Archie without giving in to him or getting into a big embarrassing dog fight. Archie would probably want to stay in Berkeley too, I‘m thinking.
What this is, of course, is what always happens when I travel to see friends. When I do that, I always discover thatI want to live in the places where they live. Although this isn’t possible, it is possible to list the reasons, which is what I’m going to do.
Why I Want to Live in Guilford:
If I lived in Guilford, I could be near my friend Debbie. And then I could watch her talk about her books with her beautiful long fingers making motions in the air to describe what she’s talking about and every once in a while I could even look into her office and see the drawings on her drawing table and know that here, where Debbie lives and works, wonderful books are being written for children, books that will entertain them, make them think, and make them love books even more than they already do.
If I lived in Guilford, I could be near Sandi Shelton. And then I could go for a walk with her on the beach at Hammonasset and she’d give me advice about my next book that would not only be correct but would also be inspiring. Plus, I would laugh a lot and so live a really long time, so I could take full advantage of her good advice. Also, I could watch her type, which is what I’m doing at this exact moment, and because she types fast, I’d always feel like things were good, because Sandi’s typing someone a really great, long, funny and inspiring e-mail.
If I lived in Guilford, when spring came, I’d be so incredibly grateful that I wouldn’t quite know what to do with myself. Because after months of winter and then months of mud, flowers and green things would really mean something. I say this now, just as spring is about to arrive in Connecticut. What would it be like to actually live through these New England winters? I’m really not sure. Maybe it would be hard.
If I lived in Guilford, I could come to the Guilford Free Library, where there are just an amazing, amazing number of tables with plugs and lights and surface space. Not to mention, carrels, and little offices, and even, in the teen section, two of the kind of booths you see mostly a soda shops in tv sit-coms. Across from the booths in the teen section there’s a bunch of board games. Who ARE these people in Guilford who love library patrons so much that they even have a little table in the children’s library with a tea maker and coffee maker and an honor box where you can put in your dollar after you make yourself a cup of tea? If you were a tired parent, and it was the middle of deepest darkest winter, well, you could come here with your child and you could drink some tea and read a book because the children’s section has books for miles, plus a little yellow house where a child can sit and play for hours and hours.
If I lived in Guilford, I could walk the mile and a half down to the shore and then back again — the perfect three mile walk. I could do it every day, all year long, because that is what Gortex is invented for and so even if it was cold or icy, there are winter clothes that would make this intrepid behavior possible.
And if I lived in Guilford, my family would be wth me, and they’d be doing all these things too (well, maybe not the part about writing in the Free Library, although William might find that pretty tempting), plus W, who is a windsurfer, could windsurf out on the Long Island Sound, which is where he learned to windsurf in the first place.
I am leaving in two days, and I know I am not going to be able to move to Guilford. But I am at least able to be happy for Sandi and Debbie, and all the other people who live around here, because even though you can’t always live where your friends live, at least you can know after a good long visit that they are, in fact, living happy lives, which is pretty much why you travel to see your friends: because you need to know that they’re happy, and you need to live alongside them for a little while so when you go home their lives will feel just that much closer next time you find yourself missing them. So, I now have a good picture of the library and the Green and the way winter becomes spring, which should sustain me when I get back to Berkeley, which is a pretty fine place to live too, now that I think about it.