I should note that the following Cheryl Strayed conversations will be told with something in the neighborhood of 14% accuracy (a personal best for me).
A bunch of us had drinks on the front porch of Lighthouse Writers Workshop last night. The “bunch” included Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild (Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection). Here’s my Cliff Notes recollection of the gathering. For purposes of disclosure, please see the disclaimer above about 14% accuracy.
To begin, the main characters are Cara Lopez Lee, Christy Bailey, Cheryl Strayed, and Carolyn (me). Because four “C” names are hard to remember, I’ve decided to call Cara “Isabel Allende,” Christy “Anne Lamott,” and Carolyn “Eudora Welty.” I’ve also added a fifth character, Everybody Else, a composite of approximately 17 different people, many of whom surely have names that start with “C”.
Eudora Welty: I’d like to meet Cheryl, but she’s surrounded by students from her memoir class.
Isabel Allende: Who cares. Let’s go talk to her.
Eudora Welty: I can’t. I’m too nervous. I wouldn’t know what to say.
Isabel Allende: You’ll be fine.
Eudora Welty: I won’t. I’ll end up rambling about how Stephen Elliott should strike me from The Rumpus email list because I’m too stupid to understand what he’s saying and how I’d like to one day take the reins of the Dear Sugar column because my advice is always excellent (it’s true—just ask me) and how I want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with a sherpa who’ll cart a prefab cottage and a beer keg and how I enjoyed it when the Black Eyed Peas made the entire population of Chicago take the day off work to flashmob Oprah.
Anne Lamott: Okay, maybe you won’t be fine.
Isabel Allende: Just act natural. Don’t be a dork.
Eudora Welty: Do you think my dorkiness is that noticeable?
Anne Lamott: I just met you, and my answer is an unqualified yes.
Eudora Welty: Maybe Cheryl can put me in touch with the Vogue makeover people since my entire wardrobe consists of 10 pairs of jeans and 10 black tee shirts. On an unrelated note, I wonder if the sherpa should carry a fire pit. A hammock might also be nice. And if I score the makeover, do you think a stylist can hook me up with Hollywood-quality waterproof mascara? I suspect a months-long hike will kick my ass, and I’d like to look good while I’m crying.
Isabel Allende and Anne Lamott: Stop talking.
Eudora Welty: Maybe …
Isabel Allende and Anne Lamott: Seriously, stop talking.
[Isabel Allende, Anne Lamott, and Eudora Welty approach Cheryl Strayed.]
Anne Lamott: Cheryl, have you met my friends Isabel Allende and Eudora Welty?
Eudora Welty: Actually, Cheryl, you and I met yesterday at your book reading. I opened a new line of credit, purchased 427 of your books, then regaled you with the life stories of all 427 book recipients as I made you write a personal message in every single copy.
Cheryl Strayed: I recall.
Eudora Welty: Just so’s you know, I’m usually much more laid back than I was when you saw me yesterday. But then you live in Portland, so you probably picked up on my innate hipness.
Eudora Welty: Anyhow, I’m not sure if I told you that I’m a huge fan.
Cheryl Strayed: I think you may have mentioned something about that during the two hours it took me to sign all 427 of your books.
Eudora Welty: Well, I have a question for you. In your opinion should my sherpa haul a keg of Fat Tire instead of a keg of Hefeweizen with the thought that a month’s worth of pre-sliced oranges might not keep, or should I have him carry a half keg of each along with a sack of oranges? Or would it be better to ditch the oranges altogether like they do in Bavaria?
[Cheryl and Everybody Else choose that exact moment to shift several feet to the right and regroup.]
Eudora Welty: The circle has moved, and now they’re having Cheryl Strayed conversations without us!
Isabel Allende: Imagine that.
Eudora Welty: What do we do now?
Anne Lamott: We should rejoin the circle in its new location.
Everybody Else: Oh goodie.