Today I signed books at the Irvington library’s 10 year commemorative celebration. This is my neighborhood library, so I was excited to participate. There were some other local authors coming, too. One of them I already knew, but I glossed over the other two names in the preparation emails.
In walked one of those two authors.
“You look REALLY familiar,” I said to him.
“You’re a TEACHER,” I said.
“I am,” he agreed.
His name is Bill Gulde, and he teaches history at my alma mater. He also runs an amazing blog about the historic neighborhood where I live. We started talking about what I’ve done since high school, and about where we each live in the neighborhood. I told him my street name.
“Wait,” he said. “Is it the tan Arts and Crafts? The foursquare?”
“Yes,” I said.
“You were featured in the IBJ (a local newspaper), weren’t you?” he asked. We were both starting to get excited. SOMETHING was happening.
“Yes!” I said. “We were!”
So. Here I have to back track for a minute. Ages ago, before Claire de Lune first came out, I blogged about a teacher I didn’t particularly like. It’s a story I’ve told since, including on the GTOTW tour. Roberta Quandt (then Flack) was the first person who really encouraged me to be a writer, and her encouragement meant even more because we didn’t much care for one another.
Mr. Gulde (who said I can call him Bill now, but it turns out it’s REALLY HARD to call a teacher by their first name, even this many years later,) anyway, Mr. Gulde told me the most amazing thing.
The house I live in was built by Roberta Quandt’s grandparents. They lived here for almost 60 years. When our house was on the market last – until we bought it, that is – he and Mrs. Quandt walked through it and she told him stories, about the house and her grandparents. I always wanted to know more about this house. In spite of searching, I’d turned up very little. I’d always hoped some unknown source would show up with the sort on insider’s look only a family member would have. I never, ever expected it to come from source connected to my own past.
I can’t wait to have Mr. Gulde/Bill over for coffee and hear those same stories. He already has pictures on his blog of my house, sometime in the thirties. There’s a photo of two of the family men working on a car out front.
Roberta Quandt, this teacher, whose praise changed so much for me, and who passed away before I could properly thank her . . . . I live in her family’s house.
I shiver every time I think about it. A good kind of shiver. A “this is where I’m supposed to be” shiver.
It’s the sort of thing that makes it very tempting to believe in fate. If nothing else, in spite of its seeming immensity and complication, it turns out that the world is a very small place indeed.