If you read a recent Meanderings and Muses piece I wrote you know we had a different sort of Saturday last week.
We went to Asheville for a couple of reasons.
One - we love Asheville and head there as often as we can. There's a wealth of delightful things to do there. It's a very artsy community, proud of its architecture, its quirkiness, its restaurants and all things "Asheville."
A popular bumper sticker/tshirt bearing the saying "Asheville, Where Normal is Weird" holds a great deal of truth.
So, going to Asheville is never in need of a "need" really.
But this past weekend there was, in fact, a reason for the journey.
My camera died.
My much loved Canon G12 that I bought myself as a retirement gift.
It hasn't been far from my side, or my hands, since the day I got it.
I love that camera.
For it to die on the way home from the beach was a blow. One I took personally and may not get over, truth be told.
There's a wonderful photo shop in Asheville. Ball Photography has been in business for over 50 years. It's one of my favorite places on God's green earth. It's like walking into a Norman Rockwell painting. One that needs a good dusting, but that would only remove some of the charm. There are cameras, camera cases, lenses, etc etc etc scattered everywhere. Many placed out of reach on a shelf that travels the length of four walls up near the ceiling. I have no doubt that some of the first cameras ever made are sitting up on that shelf.
They still sell and process film.
They give free lessons on Saturday mornings if you want to learn how to use your new SLR.
They are a wealth of information.
It's where I wanted to drop off my Canon. But. Alas, the cost of the repair made it not worth it.
A new camera?
I can't even talk about it.
Then we had another little experience that happens more often in Asheville, and places like it, than might happen in more conservative communities.
Then we went to the Harley-Davidson place.
And yes, we bought a bike.
But, y'all - this wasn't part of the weekend plan.
While we were there and I was standing off to the side watching Donald's face as he talked about bikes a woman approached me.
A woman about my age, I guess.
She was gorgeous.
Beautifully groomed, stylishly dressed, wearing a few pieces of jewelry I could easily have bonked her over the head and run out the door with. (okay, that was just a joke).
She smiled and asked me if I rode these "machines."
I said, "No. But, it's looking more and more like I might be sitting on the back of one pretty soon."
She nodded and said, "me too."
We gave each other a little half-hearted smile.
After a few moments of comfortable silence she said, "how do you feel about that?"
Did she ever open the dam. I pretty much shared with her my feelings that I've also written about here at Meanderings and Muses. Apparently, those were things that were ready to come flying off my chest. Even with a complete stranger.
After I finished, she nodded again and said, "me too."
And she told me her story.
She was there with a "dear friend." Looking at where she pointed I saw a very attractive man talking every bit as attentively to a motorcycle salesman as my Donald was at the other end of the showroom.
Next thing I knew, she and I were sitting in rocking chairs (yes - rocking chairs. In the Harley-Davidson showroom. Anyone who ever thought for a moment that Harley-Davidson doesn't own top honors in marketing, think again. They have all their bases well covered) drinking one of the best cups of coffee I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying, having a nice chat.
A long chat, as it turns out.
There's a lot to be learned from the women with men looking at motorcycles.
She had lost her husband, quite suddenly, just a couple years ago.
When she told me this, she turned her head away, but the fact that her lip was quivering did not go unnoticed. When she looked back at me I just leaned in and hugged her. She hugged back.
And we rocked while she shared the rest of her story with me.
She did not like being alone.
She went from her family home into a marriage that was a happy, fulfilling one. Married to her best friend for 42 years and then suddenly he was gone. She saw him that morning before he left for the office, had coffee with him, gave him a good-bye kiss and he died of a heart attack while sitting at his desk.
This struck a little close to home with me. Although in my case, Donald was revived and lived to be right over here in this glittery Harley Davidson showroom looking at a lot of gleaming metal monster machines.
Today my new rocking chair companion was here with her friend and thinking about whether or not she could actually climb onto the back of one of these monsters. Or not.
Funny. Me thinking the same thing.
We visited for a long time.
It takes a long time for men to look at motorcycles. (See what I learned that day?).
By the time we said our goodbyes with another hug, we both knew we'd be sitting on the back of a Harley riding down the road and not only that, we were both, truth be told, kind of excited about it.
Sometimes sitting down with another woman and talking things off your chest is the only way to get to the root of your feelings. Even if it's a woman you've never seen before and will probably never see again.
Sunday in Asheville
Sunday was my day.
Donald dropped me off at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe that morning and I had a couple hours of browsing around one of the coolest bookstores on earth.
I adore Malaprop's.
And not just because they carry Whimsey and have it on their "regional author" shelf either.
I love it for all that it is, and all that it supports.
Malaprop's supports the community of Asheville, it supports readers and writers. It's always been known for its support of local writers and will always go out on a limb for indie writers such as myself.
It has a full monthly calendar of events covering everything from a signing event by a well known New York Times bestseller to a wide and varied book groups to "how to" groups.
It's everything you want your favorite bookstore to be.
A huge stock of books covering every topic you can come up with,
literary gifts and totes, and a cafe with delicious food, terrific coffee and their own signature mugs.
Step out the door and there's a wonderful sculpture that's part of the Urban Trail.
You're also more than likely to spot some interesting and pretty darn good street musicians.
And my own personal favorite Asheville shop, The Chocolate Fetish.
Back to Malaprop's . . .
I had the honor of joining Nancy Dillingham and Celia Miles, editors of and contributors to , along with other contributors to "It's All Relative: Tales from the Tree," the latest anthology from women authors of Western North Carolina.
Rob Neufeld wrote in the Citizen-Times “there’s a shadowy, down-to-earth and at times magical quality to the telling that makes the collection striking and significant.”
Dr. Celia H. Miles and Nancy Dillingham have edited three previous anthologies of regional women writers: Christmas Presences from 45 WNC Women Writers, Clothes Lines from 75 WNC Women Writers and Women’s Spaces Women’s Places from 50 WNC Women Writers.
I am proud as punch to be a part of this group of talented women.
A group of us did readings of our work at Malaprop's on Sunday and I was moved and touched.
Each of us so different.
Each of us having writing styles so different.
And yet, each of us being there for one another and being so supportive.
This, to me, is what the writing community is all about.
This is what being a woman should be all about.
Gathering around one another after the readings, thanking those who were there only for the readings, many not knowing any of us, but supporting us by being there and many by buying the book.
I walked away from this event with my feet not touching the ground.
Smart, talented, creative women.
Who could not help but want to celebrate such a creature as this?
Such as "US?!"
All of us.
Me. You. Every woman you know.
Apparently, a bunch of asinine people who have their own ideas about who and what women are supposed to be.
The treatment of British costume designer Jenny Beavan as she won her Oscar for Mad Max: Fury Road was profoundly awful
Y'all. This makes me sad.
Why not do what we can to help our children and our grandchildren - girls AND boys - grow up knowing the joys and benefits of strong women.