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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: A victim of book club envy

© Another Day in the Country

One of the things that happened when I moved to the country was that I left behind a wildly assorted group of friends in California and traded them for a wildly assorted group of relatives in Kansas.

It was good while it lasted. However, good things don’t last forever, and the very people that we came to spend another day in the country with had pretty much used up the major part of their lives before we showed up on the scene.

During those first five years we lost almost all of our aunts and uncles, as well as our dad. During the next several years, we lost Mom as well as a host of old-timers in town that we had come to cherish. It felt as if we were experiencing more than our share of death and dying.

For newcomers who move to the country, away from the hurry- scurry of city life, the quieter, slower pace is what they’ve hankered for, but there comes a point where they look around for some of that city pizazz on occasion.

As we began to take stock of what a long-term stay in the country meant for us, now that the people we’d come to spend time with were gone, we realized that making new friends in this smaller puddle was proving difficult.

We discovered that in rural areas, where several generations of family live in a concentrated area, it is much more difficult to forge new friendships than it is in a more dense population, where every other person is a newcomer — like it was in a college community in California, for instance.

Rural friendships were often formed in grade school, lasting years and years. Newcomers could live in a small town for years and still be considered move-ins.

One day, at the health club, I was talking about this to an acquaintance.

“What you need is a good book club,” Sandy said.

I’d never thought of a book club as a way to make friends. In fact, I didn’t know anyone who belonged to one — until now. But this made sense.

Now that I had uprooted at this late stage in my life, the usual friendship-making avenues didn’t seem to fit.

I didn’t belong to the local church. I wasn’t really into sports. I didn’t have kids who were school age. I was mostly retired, so there wasn’t a ready-made group of people that I worked with. I was a single, non-drinking (so bars are out), vegetarian in beef country. Talk about odd man out!

We’ve eventually formed friendships. We once again have family in the area.

However, these aren’t necessarily the same “best buds” style of relationships that we had when we were younger.

The small-town environment brings a form of isolation — some of it good, some bad. So for lack of intimates, a good book ends up being this week’s friend or today’s adventure.

Sandy offered to recommend me to her book club. I was excited until she told me when they met,

“Friday mornings,” she said.

Wouldn’t you know it? Friday was one of the days that I taught art. So there went the book club idea! However, the seed had been planted.

A while back I read “The Book that Matters Most,” about a group of women who started a reading group.

In the notebook where I write my own book reviews, I grumbled, “No memorable quotes, and the author isn’t an exceptional writer … the ending infuriated me … but the idea of belonging to a book club is still a good one!”

That’s it! I have book club envy. I don’t want just to read a book; it’s not enough. I want to be able to tell someone about what I read and I want him or her to know what I’m talking about because that person read the book, too.

I fantasize about finding kindred spirits in a book club, folks who read a paragraph like, “You could not reason with a morning. A morning is not a thing that had to give anything beyond what it was,” and then they discuss it on another day in the country.

Last modified Nov. 16, 2017

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