Union Station has been open six or eight months, but I have not been down there yet. I wander through a huge lobby, looking for a what seems to be a non-existent piano that Val has designated as the meeting area, and wondering how I will ever connect with anyone. My ADD self, which doesn't usually do enclosed shopping malls, kicks in, and I struggle to find the piano, because there is so much else to look at- people, little shops (Hey, there's a sign for Tattered Cover Books, did they move over here?), gorgeous antique architecture and fixtures.
Just when I am about to ask someone if there is another lobby with a piano, I hear someone calling my name. It is Brenna, who has staked a claim on a quieter corner. Soon Brenna spots Val across the lobby and calls on her cell phone.
"Turn left! No, left again. Turn around. We can see you."
Brenna and I laugh as Val follows the somewhat convoluted directions, finally spots us and makes her way across the lobby. Brenna and Karen head off to find a beer, while I hold down our encampment in the lobby.
We know Karen is not coming- she is at a funeral in Saint Louis, but Terri is supposed to be arriving by light rail. No one has heard from her, but after fifteen minutes, we decide not to wait any longer. It is time to bring our final member into the conversation.
Laura is not in Denver right now. She is eight or ten thousand, or maybe a million miles away in Hong Kong, doing a two year stint as director of professional development at an international school corporation. In December, we chose our books for the next six months, so she could buy/download them. And every month, she joins us via Skype or FaceTime or telephone, from her apartment in China. Brenna is our technology guru, who makes it all come together.
Today it takes several attempts. No connection via Skype. Nothing via FaceTime. "I'm going to try calling," says Brenna. But then Laura's face pops up on the iPad. It is early in Hong Kong, only four on Sunday morning and she is still in bed. We wonder for a minute why we decided to meet at two, and promise that next month we will meet a little later.
Laura assures us she doesn't care that we have called so early and reaches for her glasses and her book, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, by Tony Doerr. Let the book talk begin! Terri arrives and somehow manages to find us in that huge lobby. She makes her way to where the iPad can see her.
Some months, depending on what has gone on in people's lives, and on people's interest in the book, we just talk, and the book kind of takes a backseat, but today we are ready to talk book. This meeting has been rescheduled several times and Brenna, Laura, and I finished the book over a month ago. Val, an avid reader, has read several other books, including THE GOLDFINCH, but has not finished ALL THE LIGHT.
A spirited conversation ensues as we make our way through the book.
"What page are you on?"
"Wasn't that the grandfather, it was her grandfather on the radio, wasn't it?"
"What actually happened to the climax?"
"Could you believe how it all came together, right here?"
"What page is that?
"Do you think that's really where the whole thing came together?"
And so we sit, four fifty-plus women, in the middle of Union Station, surrounded by young and beautiful people, talking about our books, for almost an hour. Finally, Brenna's phone is almost out of juice, Val has to head off to Fort Collins for an evening with a new friend, and Laura is ready to go back to bed. We make plans for next month, BOSTON GIRL, April 11, place to be determined, I think. We say goodbye to Laura, "Love you sweetie! Miss you! Only a couple of more months until June!" and the screen goes blank.
Brenna, Terri and I head across the street for a burger and continue the conversation- books, life, Laura's dog, my boys.
We have been reading talking books and loving each other for almost twenty years.