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The Red Tent

There are nine of us.  Sixteen years ago, we met through our children at a tiny primary school. Book club was born, then after that, a couple more children.


Between us, we have 23 kids.  So far, one is married.


All 9 of us are of white settler lineage; 4 of our children are POC. Over the years, 4 of us have moved away from this city, and 2 returned.  But we all continue to meet together.


We’ve read 92 books, 14 authored by POC, 78 by WP.  We’ve taken enthusiastic second helpings of Kim Thuy,Sue Monk Kid, Stephanie Kallos, Elizabeth Gilbert, Camilla Gibb – thirds by Amor Towles, and gorged on towering four volumes by Ann Patchett.  


Early on, we read The Red Tent by Anita Diamante, and called ourselves by that name. Whole years go by where we don't call ourselves that anymore, so its probably a skin shed - bark,  peeling off the arbutus we together are.  


On the last Friday of the month, we collect at someone’s place. The conversation rambles and rolls, deepens, hovers, quivers and drifts; roars with laughter. We don’t meet in summers, winter holidays or spring break.  Sometimes we swim. Once we had a visit from the police for an illegal fire on rocks by the sea.


In the beginning we talked til 2AM, drank wine and feasted on a groaning potluck board. We brought food that reflected the title we read.  We revelled. Now we barely make it past 9pm, tea dominates the drinks menu, and the feast has thinned. The Covid years on ZOOM almost broke us, but how breathtaking the first returning live sightings were, outdoors by fires. 


It's likely wrong to think we are fading, though. We had to agree to connect with each other outside of book clubs for thorough catchings ups and touching base - otherwise we didn’t get to the book.  Over the years, many of us have taken to walking woods and seawall together. Some also belong to other book clubs, a choir, and so on. Absences and books unread are completely accepted.  And during the age-appropriate window, there was a spin-off – a mother-daughter book club some were involved in. 


Chosen sisters, we’ve weathered changes - divorces, bereavements, moves, career changes, medical challenges, and the wild ride that is the raising of children.


Sunday July 17, 2022