Joyful Janna

I was sitting in the afternoon sun sipping a butter rum steamer when I heard the quickening sound of shoes on pavement heading my direction.

“Oh my God! Is that Katey Schultz? The famous writer?” a voice hollered.

I turned around with a knowing smile. The joyfulness and elation in the voice could be none other than Janna’s and my suspicions were confirmed as our eyes met and I saw for certain that the voice belonged to her. I jumped up to give her a hug and we both laughed.

Before Janna approached me on the sidewalk I had been reading Charlotte’s Web (in preparation for my second graders) in a half-gloomy daze. But as always, her bright smile, excellent sense of humor, and glowing humanness pulled me out of my funk and back into a more positive reality.

“Look,” she said, “I just don’t have time for that. It’s just going to work out, that’s what I tell myself.”

We’re both applying to grad school (she’s applying for printmaking) and have agonized over the paperwork and formalities. I tell her that I found a typo in my Vermont College essay after I express air mailed it (“sloughing” instead of “slouching” – as in Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Big. Bad. Ugly.).

“There were other problems too. Internal problems – with the argument. This is the kind of shit I think about before I go to bed at night.”

“I did that for a while. But I don’t want that to be me,” she says firmly. “You know, it’s going to work it. It’s just going to come together.”

We chat for a few more minutes on the sidewalk before she has to go. We walk to my car and I show her the pile of shredded maps and napkins that a rodent attacked in my glove compartment. Somehow the animal crawled into the motor and got in the vehicle. For a moment, I analyze the significance of small mammals creeping their way into pockets of my life – the wood stove, the glove box – my heat, my transportation. What does it all mean?

“Look, I’ll see you soon, ok?” Janna interrupts my neurosis for another hug and she is off, down the sidewalk with a bounce in her step. “Gotta get back to the studio!” she calls over her shoulder, reddish curls catching a glimpse of sunlight as she enters the road.

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