Joyce Maynard and Thais Derich

I couldn’t remember if food was provided, so I packed an almond butter sandwich just in case. And then, I headed out on the curvy, redwood trimmed road up to Joyce’s house.  I parked where she recommended since there'd be a fire drill on her street that day. The dirt lot was many houses down the hill from her house. I saw cars pull up and stop around the same time. It was early Saturday morning so I presumed that they had come for the same workshop. But instead of waiting, asking to be sure, and awkwardly striking up sleepy conversation, I walked alone up the shaded road.

Joyce wore a homey 1950s style dress with flowers and a Latin American apron. The patterns clashed but mingled together well like old and new friends. I saw her drying her hands with a dishtowel before opening the door.

We shook hands and smiled.

The bright kitchen windows had an unobstructed close-up view of the top of Mount Tamalpais. The smell of homemade poppy seed cake, coffee, onion quiche, and watermelon danced around the old house. One workshop writer washed dishes and confessed that she was addicted to Joyce's workshops.

When I left her house just before nine o’clock that night, we hugged, maybe twice. I walked back to my car in the company of four other women. Buzzed on chocolates and not too much wine, we talked quietly and excitedly about the day, promised to keep in touch, and work on our stories. I dug deep in my purse for my keys and my hand pressed up against my squashed, uneaten sandwich.