I recently took a trip back to Chicago. I grew up in the suburbs, a fairly nerdy, shy girl. I was far more comfortable with books than with people. I’m an old soul and never really fit with kids my own age. But I had one friend through junior high and high school who was my very best friend. (I had other friends, but I haven’t stayed in touch with anyone else from that time) We had a lot of fun together. What I remember most was that we laughed. We laughed a lot. We had deep discussions about the meaning of life, our lives, our families, but through it all we laughed.

I was able to spend an afternoon with my girlfriend from high school, who I hadn’t seen in over twenty years (!!) and it was as if we’d only had the distance of a few weeks rather than decades. We’re older (of course), but sharing our new realities was just as much fun as reliving our shared memories.

Book are like old friends too.

Sometimes, the book hasn’t aged well, and it’s hard to see why I was so enamored when I originally read it. But I give thanks for the entertainment and comfort I received when I first read it and move on.

But other books, I re-read them, delighting in the stories all over again, sometimes discovering new nuances in the text that I either missed or perhaps just struck me differently because of what’s happening in the world or my life now. But through it all there is this sense of coming home.

We took a trip to the American Writers Museum on Michigan Avenue. As you know, I love going to museums of any kind, but I especially love a museum whose focus is on writing, books, the writing process, and the writing life.

This museum was fascinating because it highlighted a broad diverse cross section of men and women; white, Black, Native, and Latino; wealthy, poor, former slaves. I was familiar with some of the writers, others I had never heard of, but what struck me most was they all had a burning need to write. And they wrote in a variety of genres and mediums and on many subjects.

These days we’re told, as writers, to “stay in our lane.” But I’ve been thinking about this advice lately and I believe that we can have things to say about more than what’s in “our lane.” I love romance books. I love reading them and writing them. I believe that love is the most powerful force in the world. More powerful than greed or power or fear.

But romance isn’t my only interest. I’m also passionate about the environment and conservation, about the ocean, about nutrition, about health and aging well, about nature, about always learning.

I want to zig zag back and forth through all those lanes, stopping and reflecting when I feel like it.

So I’m going to.