Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Santa Maria, California

Santa Maria: Alice Shaw and Dunlap, October 27-28

When I was in sixth grade my best friend and I made an emerald castle in the desert. Okay, she provided the emeralds. I mostly helped by using old junk, like a discarded shower stall and tin sheeting. Our emerald castle was made out of junk, but in our imaginations, it was a magnificent fortress. Everything was perfect until the older kids came and kicked us out. Rotten kids! Christy and I were like the two kids in the book and movie, Bridge to Terabithia. We would explore the desert, hike around, and hang out with our other friend, Amanda. Who knows what would have happened if Christy had stayed in Beatty? I think we would have been great friends for years and years. Then tragedy struck. Not as bad as in Bridge to Terabithia, though. She moved away toward the end of sixth grade and I was heartbroken. Then we lost touch, seeing each other a couple of times after that. Then it was seventeen or so years later when we found each other on Facebook. She invited me to visit Santa Maria, a city near San Luis Obispo in California. I wanted to meet her, her husband Erik, and their three kids. We had a great visit and I loved going to the schools she set me up with.

Dunlap Elementary School, where Christy’s son Jack went, was one of my best school visits ever—in the top two for sure. The speech to a large group was one of my best performances of all time. Sometimes you just rock the house. I don’t always. But I connected with the kids and we had so much fun. Then the two writing workshops afterward went extremely well. The students came up with fabulous ideas and the stories we created were top-notch. Then I signed posters for the kids in some classrooms and hung out more. It was a wonderful visit from beginning to end. The presence of my friend, Christy, made it all the better. Did I mention she’s also the best cook in the world? Her husband Erik is good too. He made baby back ribs on his grill that were awesome. Christy’s fish tacos were incredible and I’m amazed Erik is in such good shape. If I were him, I’d have a big gut!!

That night I visited Alice Shaw Elementary from 7-9 PM. The principal, Janet Bertoldi, hosted an event for families from both Dunlap and Alice Shaw. It was very well attended and the event was a big hit. Speaking about writing and teaching the kids a writing workshop was fabulous. We came up with such a cool story. The signing afterward was incredibly successful.

Leaving Santa Maria was bittersweet. I’ll always be friends with Christy and really enjoyed meeting her family—especially her son, Jack. Here’s the public link to the Facebook pictures.

Happy reading!

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters

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