The rainbow flag has been raised at city hall; it’s Pride Week in Nanaimo. I’ve been thinking of a piece I wrote a year and a half ago and will post it here.

Because I had happy memories of meeting with Becky and Rie at the Bodhi Bakery and I knew on a sunny, warm September morning, I could sit outside on the deck, I decided to go back to the Bodhi.

I took along Leaving Now by Arleen Pare, a novel about a woman who leaves her husband and children when she falls in love with another woman. Happily drinking my decaf Americano, I drafted a review that I planned to send to a women’s magazine. My overall impressions came first and then I looked for the passages I had marked with pencil in the book.

Two women asked to join me as I was at a huge table. Sure, I was open to them sitting at the same table. What else could I do? There were only two large tables on the Bodhi deck and the other one was occupied.

The two women probably in their seventies, were loving their scones with apple butter. The owner had given them the end of a jar and they wondered if he expected them to leave any. The apple butter was “to die for” and they were prepared to keep going with a spoonful of apple butter on every bite of scone.

I really couldn’t concentrate even though their conversation was pretty light. I stood up and said goodbye. They told me they didn’t want to disturb me. I said thanks, I was writing a book review. They wondered about the book and I told them about Leaving Now.

“Is it about someone dying?” Mary, the tea drinker, asked.

“No, it’s about a woman who leaves her husband and children when she falls in love with a woman,” I said.

“Oh,” Mary and Maureen exclaimed with interest and almost as much glee as their taste of apple butter.

“That would have been difficult to do. But it would have been good on the other side. It would have taken a lot of courage,” one of them said.

“Yes,” I said. “It’s very hard to leave someone and to separate from one’s children. The author and I have a lot in common. She and I are both 65. I also left my husband and children in 1983.” (That’s when Arleen’s character leaves.)

One of the women wondered about the children and how they took it. I said they had to learn to manage.

I told them my name and asked for theirs.

“Friends?,” Mary asked.

I said my husband stayed friends with the couples we knew and I had new friends. My daughter got married two years ago I told them and during her wedding speech said she was lucky to have come from an unconventional family.

“My family is so dull,” Maureen said.

Maryellen is Rusty’s partner now I told them. When she and I were going to take our seats in the front row at the wedding she asked me if I wanted to sit beside Rusty (because we were Emily’s parents). I said no but so appreciated the offer. I sat beside Maryellen with my partner Sarah on the other side of me.

“Do you do any counselling?” Mary asked.

“ No, but I lead women’s writing circles where women can tell their stories.”

“You should write your own book,” Maureen said. “It would help other people. And add little bits like Maryellen offering to have you sit beside your husband.”

I have written poems and personal essays I told them. There are more stories to be told.

“I’m writing a collection of poems and short essays called A Poet’s Nanaimo,” I told them. “I’ll write about the two of you.”

Maureen and Mary were so excited they would be part of a story. I was content that I got to tell more of mine.

You can read my review of Leaving Now by Arleen Pare at Story Circle Book Reviews.