I came to Great Barrington because I wanted my two children “to be from somewhere.” There are many times I have told myself what a mistake that was, that I chose the wrong place, that I should have stayed in London, or moved on when I realized how alien I felt here, knowing that that was bound to affect them. But maybe it’s worked out, in spite of me. Here’s something I wrote for the book, and below it is what happened yesterday:
Unlike my family in the Silicon Valley when I was a kid, I know my neighbors. Alex has lived next door since the summer we moved here, 15 years ago, and our kids used to run back and forth through the gap in the fence. Liz and I both love to garden. Diane and I met at yoga class. When Iím away, I can ask them to feed my cats, and when Iím here I turn to them for local gossip. In the spring we visit one anotherís gardens, and at Halloween the neighborhood is packed with children trick-or-treating. When my kids were small, they walked to the little school in the center of town. Friends still report to me when they see Rachel (now 21) crossing Main Street with an open book in her hand.
Rachel grew up as “the girl who’s always reading,” but you might well think I am exaggerating when I say that people I know keep an eye out for her. Yesterday I saw a friend, talked about online publishing for a while, and as I was leaving she said, “Oh, I saw Rachel crossing Main Street the other day – ” I waited for the usual punchline. “And she wasn’t reading! She didn’t even have a book in her hand. She was looking around, paying attention. I almost didn’t recognize her.”
This is community, isn’t it?