Joyce Hinnefeld


Monday, November 3, 2008

Overdue Thanks—and Why We Write

It’s been too long since I’ve posted something here; too much student work to read and respond to, too much traveling, and now, too much nervous—and also exhilarated—anticipation of the election tomorrow.

I had a wonderful visit in the Midwest from Oct. 24 through Oct. 29—terrific events at the lovely Joseph Beth Booksellers store in Cincinnati and at my alma mater, Hanover College in Indiana. It was great to connect with family and old friends. Lots of time spent sitting at kitchen tables, talking politics. I came back to more of that in our house here in Bethlehem, at a little Halloween party for our daughter and some friends and their parents, last Friday night. I can’t recall an election with this much energy and this much, well, hope in the air.

Thanks Mom and Dad, Stu and Susan, Rita and Kirk for hosting me in Indiana and Cincinnati. Thanks to dear old friends and relatives who traveled to Cincinnati and Hanover to see me. Thanks to Barb and Micheal at Joseph Beth and to Rhonda Burch and Jon Smith at Hanover for making all these things happen.

And thanks to Charles at The Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, where I signed more First Edition Club copies of IHF this past weekend, and to the wonderful Ramey family for hosting me, for taking me to the sumptuous Red Square for dinner, and for giving me one remarkable view of the Rockies Sunday morning before breaking all records to get me to the Denver Airport on time.

Okay yes, this is starting to sound like my acceptance speech, so I’ll stop thanking people now. One other quick note about going home—in my case to southern Indiana. Every time I return there, every morning jog seems to remind me of why I write. This time it was jogging past the old paper mill in Brownstown, my home town, where I worked in the office one summer, between my freshman and sophomore years of college. It’s abandoned now, and grass and shrubs are taking over the parking lot and the office entrance. I used to come home from that job reeking of cigarette smoke (remember when people smoked in offices?), but I loved the hard-smoking, hard-living people I worked with there—people who’d been way too tough and way too cool for me to have known them well in high school.

Jogging by that parking lot on a gray Monday morning, suddenly, for a moment, I was right back in that summer. I wanted to remember every single detail; it all seemed so important at that moment. It was a cold, gray morning, there was nothing else in that quiet end of town but a couple bars and an insurance company office with one lone woman working inside, and I felt desperate to hold on to all of it. I don’t know why that mattered so much to me.

My dad says the company recently paid some back taxes, so there’s speculation that the paper mill might open up again one of these days. Who knows? Things are changing everywhere. Driving west from Brownstown to Cincinnati, I saw over a dozen Obama/Biden signs. Things are most definitely changing

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