I hit the jackpot on this one.
I was one of 14 Vermont writers (click here to see all) invited to participate in the “Tables of Content” fundraiser for the Rutland Free Library last night. The invitation arrived back in the fall, and even then I knew it was special just by its clever title.
What I learned over the course of the evening’s events is that “Tables of Content” is a tribute to all that is good in this world: libraries, books, and people. Some of you may have read about Rutland, Vermont in the New York Times recently. But I’m here to tell you another story.
The people of Rutland LOVE their LIBRARY. More than one hundred of them spent more than one hundred dollars to ensure that the building and its collections stay in top form. I came away from the event in LOVE with everyone I met.
I could go on, but I won’t go on. (Genius grumpy Samuel Beckett once said, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.) Anyway, in the interest of brevity and levity, these are the highlights of my remarkable evening with remarkable people in support of a remarkable place:
At 5 p.m., I walk inside the Rutland Free Library where its Trustees, in tuxedos and fancy dresses, greet me. I panic for about 37 seconds over whether I’ve dressed properly. And I worry about the fact that I have NO IDEA what I’m supposed to do. I didn’t prepare any remarks. One of the handsome trustees tells me how the city’s old jail cells are in the basement. I wonder if this is a veiled threat. Be amazing under-dressed Bercaw or else you will be arrested!
I find my spot next to the other authors on the main floor once I’ve learned that we are to sign books purchased by the patron party-goers. I eat crabcakes and mushrooms as they are delivered. I am in love with the food and the servers, too.
At 7 p.m., we head upstairs for the dinner portion of the show. Yes, the famed TABLES of CONTENT.
Us writers (is that legit grammar? WTF? I should retire ASAP) rotated from table to table, over three courses, to talk about our work and to hear about our table-mates. I met an 85-year-old woman who told me to write fiction instead of memoir. Guess what? I loved her. I met a woman who coaches swimming and every sport under the sun. Guess what? I loved her. I met a couple who lived in the Philippines, Korea and Singapore. Guess what? I don’t even have to say it!
My evening ended at the Ira Brook Farm where I was the guest of the owners. I dreamt of my family farms and of my family history. I recalled the public libraries of my youth.
Oh how I love libraries, where you get to find and be yourself. I would never have become a writer without one.