I Second a Blooming
Once upon a time, before I ran away from home and got a divorce, but while my marriage was crumbling, I explored Mississippi. I drove all over the state, visiting cities everyone talked about but I had never seen. I went to Columbus and Holly Springs and Corinth where the railroad from the Civil War was a major attraction. I toured gravel pits and rode in horse-drawn carriages. I saw more than my fair share of antebellum homes. I stayed in B&Bs before we knew anything about Airbnb. I ate at tables by myself. I learned and absorbed and enjoyed, and I look back with fondness on what could have been an extremely sad and solitary time in my life.
This feeling returned to me this weekend as I drove into Starkville, Mississippi. The story is that Mississippi’s two state universities were established in the middle of nowhere because the state legislators wanted the students to have no choice but to pay attention to their studies. Oxford, maybe not. Starkville, definitely.
I was driving this familiar-feeling territory on my way to a women’s retreat hosted by Alison Buehler of the Homestead Center and put together by Susan Cushman, the editor of A Second Blooming. I have an essay in the book. Susan asked several contributors to be presenters at this weekend conference. I went because of the caliber of the other presenters – – I wanted to get to know these women. That’s what I was thinking about when I accepted the invite. Of course, it was the conference itself that took my heart by surprise.
A “second blooming” refers to the process that happens in the second half of a woman’s life. When the container of the first half is formed, but the contents begin to change. We had about 14 women participating. I had to leave early to return to Memphis to attend—for joy, for joy—my husband’s 70th birthday dinner. My time at the conference, however brief, was delightful.
I am grateful to Susan Cushman for including me in this group. And I want to thank the participants, who chose to come to this retreat and let me lead them through an intense, proselytization on the joy of creating in groups.