A writer once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If this is true, which five people would you like to spend your time with?
I note the prompt asks for the people we would like to spend my time with, which may be completely different than the ones I actually spend the most time with. And then not.
The person I have spent the most time with over the last month is a young man named Alexey who has shown up at my major hangout place, the oft-mentioned Burlington Writers Workshop. Alexey is a refugee from a PhD program in the upper midwest, and has come to the great state of Vermont to explore farming. He writes, when he is not working, a swashbuckling quasi-steampunk novel with heavy philosophical elements. Although there is adventure galore, there is also deep thinking for those who are minded to like that sort of thing. I assisted him when Burlington declared a snow emergency in taking his car to a safe off-street venue. But he has now started working full-time and so our encounters are destined for a much smaller calendar.
My friend Ann is usually high on this list, but she has been in Japan for a few weeks with her husband, visiting their daughter who is an exchange student there. But she is the type of friend that time and distance make no dent in the friendship. They do make a difference though when I need a ride home from a colonoscopy and she does not get home until the next day. Still I am eager to see her return, though I suspect the time difference will limit our reunion at least early on.
There is a group that is the core of the Wednesday night workshop at BWW. I almost have to clump them into a single entity or go over my limit of five before I am even half-finished in naming them all. We have wonderful conversation and discussions in the workshop, and then we go across the street to Citizen Cider to finish off the evening. This ritual is now ingrained in our meeting, and we let the non-regulars tag along. On any given week I may be sitting with a different writer from any prior time. But we are connected by our discussions of each others’ writing, and there is never a dull moment. So this group can be number three on the installment plan.
There is one person who has regularly attended the Wednesday workshop, and will soon be departing. So he gets to count as a full one of the five. Peter Biello has been the heart and soul of BWW since its earliest days. A graduate of an MFA program, he determined to build a more inclusive workshop experience, allowing all writing to have access to our groups. He has been heard to say that it is a workshop for all Vermonters, not just literary types. He has worked for over five years at Vermont Public Radio, and this year has applied for two open positions within the organization. He was, rather surprisingly, turned down from both positions even though he was admirably qualified for both. He has seen the handwriting on the wall at VPR, and has sought and obtained the job at New Hampshire Public Radio that should have been his at VPR. I am not alone in thinking that VPR has much to answer for, as we are losing our founder, heart and soul, to Concord, NH. It is unlikely VPR will re-earn my trust or my support (minimal as it is) for a good long time.
Another member of BWW, Martin has been away for over a month but his return is imminent, for which I am grateful. He will be able to keep me cool through this time of trial and tribulation. He has helped me enormously with my writing, and he is an absolute wizard as a sculptor of found wood. I always tease him that it is unfair to be so talented in two such different arts. On top of that he does acupuncture with something of an art in itself. He is a multi-faceted character with an equally talented wife whose return will also be greeted with joy.
The ones I have not included on this list are my cats, but they are the ones I spend the most time with. They have the advantage of never being compelled to tell any of my foibles to the rest of the world. and they do cuddle extremely well. And to all the others whom I didn’t list by name, most of you are just fine (in small doses).