Finding Something Good Without Looking For It
Now and then a spate of serendipity comes along. The stars align, one can’t believe one’s good fortune and we live in a benign, even benevolent, universe for a lovely while. Last night was one of those times.
I was invited to read at an event called Wordier Than Thou, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tiffany Razzano, the spirited and inspiring editor of the LGTBQ blog in the local alternative paper, Creative Loafing, organizes this occasional gathering for the gay writing community in the Tampa Bay area. It’s held in a small space called The L Train Theatre Lounge which serves as both a performance space and a wine and beer bar.
Readings are not among my favorite activities. For one thing, I can’t sit still that long. For another, they take a lot of preparation and exhaust me because of the emotional duress that accompanies getting in front of an audience. This reading was different. To tell the truth, they are all different because once I’m there, I meet other readers and writers and my world expands. Gay people are an incredibly diverse and talented bunch.
I met a woman who practices spoken word performance, something so far from my sphere of reference I had to ask for an explanation. I met another woman who has plans for a lesbian speed dating service. I met a PhD candidate who works in a new independent bookstore that, amazingly, opens at 6:30 a.m. And I listened to a singer called Cuba Luna whose throaty voice was thrilling.
As if those gifts weren’t enough, I turned a corner from a hallway into the performance space and came face to face with two friends from Nottingham, England. As I recall, I looked from one to the other literally gaping. What were the chances that I would finally agree to read on a night that they would be visiting in the vicinity. That they would stumble across a Tweet announcing the reading. That they would be willing to leave the beach and tackle the insane Tampa Bay traffic. That they would be in the front row with my sweetheart to cheer me on during the reading. No way!
Way! This is just how we happened to find what we hope will be our retirement home in the Pacific Northwest. Not that we’re retiring anytime soon. We’re simply never going to move again, so when we do retire, that’s where we’ll be living.
We were actually in Oregon to visit our friends the Handydyke and the Pianist. As we plan to move back there eventually, we stopped in to see my old realtor and she kindly printed out some places to look at, to get a sense of the market. The last place we checked was a manufactured home. My sweetheart had not gotten out of the car to walk around any of the other houses, but this time, maybe because it was the last, maybe because the stars were aligned just right, she did. Then she called me to join her.
She was looking at a distant view of the Pacific Ocean. I can’t begin to describe how far out of our price range a view of any ocean, river, lake or pond is for us. But there it was, gray-blue, wild, an unobstructed and unobstructable view from this hilltop house. As we peered in windows and walked the miniscule, miniscule grounds, the next door neighbor headed our way. Not to shoo us off the property, but with key in hand, smiling, friendly, eager to let us inside. Afterward, we sped back to the realtor.
The next morning we were at the mortgage office, applying. By that afternoon we had our insurance binder. Everyone was available just when we needed them. We are thinking positively that the lender will give us its blessings and we’ll be crossing the country soon. In the dead of winter, of course, leaving an unsold house behind us, but no matter how much I worry about such little details, by hook or by crook, that’s our hilltop house, that’s our future.
The UPS guy confirmed it for us this afternoon. Out of the blue, he delivered a package from our auctioneer friend. Last month, when a family member was going through a rough patch, we sent her a care package from a teddy bear company, with a bit of chocolate and the like. I hardly have to say that’s exactly what the auctioneer sent us on a whim, because the bears reminded her of us.
Just in case I had doubts, and despite my aversion to Facebook, I went to friend one of the incredible lesbians we met last night. On the top of her page was the word serendipity—and the definition: “Finding something good without looking for it.”
Lee Lynch’s novel Rafferty Street concludes her epic Morton River Valley Trilogy (Dusty’s Queen of Hearts Diner and Morton River Valley). In this stand-alone novel Annie Heaphy, beloved hero of Lynch’s classic Toothpick House, reunites with her old crowd. She loves her job driving people with disabilities to and from work—until being gay becomes an issue. Valley gays unite to defend her as she revels in love with the right, and wrong, women. Lynch’s warm, engaging prose deeply affects her readers as she tells her story—even more powerful today when civil rights for gays are still denied. Now available in electronic format from Bold Strokes Books.