I had met them two years before at a writers’ conference in Eastern Kentucky and I thought them among the smartest people I had ever met. “You made it.” He rose from his chair to greet me and shake my hand. We were all there to take in spring training baseball, an annual trip organized by Lee and Hal.
“You’ve come down to hang with us old timers,” he said with a smile. I’m happy to be here.” He introduced me to the other regulars on the trip, a smattering of writers and academics from the Triangle area of North Carolina, and I shook each of their hands. The group consisted of both die-hards and apathetic fans.
Across the street a Live oak draped in Spanish moss fronted Spring Bayou, where the sun glimmered off the water’s surface. I was meeting friends, mentors really, older writers who, for reasons that continue to elude me ten years later, had taken an interest and reached out to help me. These were very successful people and I wasn’t sure why they would pick this run-down and out of the way place to stay but they’d said it had something to do with its charm.
Dubious, I walked into the office of the Tarpon Inn anyway and collected my key.
At the patio tables, sunlight had worn the umbrellas thin as gossamer and the area was empty.
I pulled my truck under the portico and noted the rusted railing along the second floor.The novelist Lee Smith and her husband, journalist Hal Crowther.They were the ones who had invited me into the fold.Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries.We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market.Grad school was going to be my lifeline out of Richmond, to standing on my own, and when I didn’t get accepted anywhere I realized I was going to be stuck there for another year. The day I met her she was walking ahead of me on a path at the conference.She stopped when she saw me trailing behind and waited for me to catch up.I pulled back the covers on the bed, worried what I might find, but the sheets were clean, free of stray hairs, giving off the faint scent of bleach.At the pool, I found the two people I had most come to see.I made my way through old issues of and I was always driving out to the Barnes and Noble and looking in the backs of books and finding all the writers had gone to the University of Iowa. Checking in meant I was there to make sure they were following the rules.I was not a welcome guest in most places and by May I quit, just as the dot com bubble was bursting, taking most of the traditional economy down with it.