People make me happy. Connections, good conversations fill me up inside. The hardest part of the pandemic for me has been the absence of my extrovert, people-energy injections. But I got a shot of that last night.
I love my book club. We’ve met monthly for at least fifteen years (I can’t remember when it officially started…maybe one of my cohorts can remind me). Some readers have been here the whole time…some have moved or simply moved on…others have joined through the years. There is a great energy to this group of smart, reflective, open, caring women who love books and the expanding experience of reading and sharing thoughts and ideas. We span ages from twenty-something to seventy-something—different faiths, different politics, different personal histories—yet we listen to each other and are willing to grow and learn from each other. All of which I love.
There are about a dozen members of our group at present, but most gatherings include six to eight people who can make it on a given Monday evening. Last night was a small group…only five of us…and it was lovely. It was over zoom, which I am sick of, wanting to actually BE with people again…but it still filled my bucket, which was approaching empty, feeling depleted by COVID fatigue…the wave of “when will this be over?” washing over me of late…the glow of the inauguration and the end of 2020 and the excitement over vaccines dulled by the reality that none of this ends the pandemic or our other major problems anytime soon. Looking at the long road ahead is draining.
Which brings me to the book we discussed last night, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Wow! A fabulous, unique, thought-provoking book that provided a wealth of ideas to explore. One of those is the idea of the subjectivity of time, which has been very present for me during the pandemic. Time has been a weird thing this past year. Is a new day a new day, or simply a replay of the one before? Is time actually passing, or is it at a standstill? Sometimes it has felt to me that a week takes forever and sometimes days slip away like they were nothing. Addie LaRue has the option to live forever. How would that change time for you? How would it change how you perceive time, how you choose to spend it? We explored those questions last night.
We also explored Addie’s curse…that although she can live forever, no one remembers her. When she leaves someone’s sight, they immediately forget her. And so, we talked about connection. The trade-off between freedom and roots…how being in relationships with people, having a home, limits freedom. Yet for all of us, it has been a sacrifice worth making, one that most of us gladly choose.
Yet we also talked about how much we all miss our freedom. The freedom to see friends and family. The freedom to travel. Restaurants, concerts, parties, dating (some of us!). Yet, at the moment, that freedom comes at too high a cost, and so we reign ourselves in and wait for the risk to decrease. It doesn’t mean we don’t miss it. But we do see the value in relinquishing it, the necessity of limiting it.
And so we all make deals. Hopefully not with the devil, the dark gods, as Addie does. But we all choose, we make sacrifices, we trade freedom for security. We trade time for experiences. We connect even though there are risks.
The story of Addie LaRue is completely unique and monumentally creative, and it also reflects the timeless truth of the human condition. Which almost always makes for a great book, and lots to talk about. Especially when it is written as beautifully and skillfully as V.E. Schwab wrote this book. I am very jealous, and extremely appreciative that she did.
Don’t waste time…start reading!