under the b

Many years ago, I wrote a picture book story called "Under the B" about a little girl and her great-great aunt, and how much they loved to play Bingo. When I am back in Atlanta, I'm going to dig it out and brush it off, and look at it critically again, because there is nothing much I like more for an evening's entertainment than playing ridiculous, hilarious Bingo with old friends in the little town I lived in for 25 years, Urbana, Maryland. That's where I was last night.

These folks raised me. We were so happy to see one another again last night!

I was 25 years old when I moved to Urbana, and 50 when I left. During those 25 years, I attended Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church with these folks, worked at umpteen firehall suppers in this very room, played Bingo outside under the stars every July during the Firemen's Carnival (I've written about this here), and raised my family in a very small, very quiet, very rural town. I loved every single minute of it. Today I live in a bustling city, Atlanta. Not so rural. Not so quiet. And I love it, too. But I love to come back home to Urbana and Frederick County, Maryland.

When I wrote "Under the B," I was trying to capture the feeling of doing simple things together with great love, with people you adore. And... that is what I did last night.

I sent "Under the B" to several publishers, back in the '90s, when I wrote it. Every one of them rejected it. I'm sure, when I read it again, I'll see why. I remember that it was a "slice of life" story -- a "quiet" story... too quiet. So let me see what I can do with that quiet story, when I'm home again. "Let go of your memories, and tell me a story." That's what Liz Van Doren at Harcourt told me, over and over again, as I was writing Love, Ruby Lavender, our first book together.

So I need a story. Surely, within that story, I can capture the sense of community, the preciousness of friendship, the utter loveliness of coming home... I hope I can. And even if I can't... I have come home. And it is good.

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