My best friend, Christina Ball, hosted the first event for Dear Money at her Speak Language Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was a delightful, intimate evening at her lovely school. Out of the woodwork came Avery Chenoweth, the older brother of a good friend, Matthew, from pre-school. Avery is a writer and a swing dancer with a beautiful sense of humor. Mary Alice, the best friend of my mother’s in the third grade, came with her sister — a complete surprise. I felt celebrated and thoroughly loved.
Another wonderful surprise was a stranger, a flight attendant for American. Her name is Claudia and she had the most gorgeous free, spirit. I would LOVE to write a magazine piece about her, following her as she hopscotches across the globe — a fly on the wall of the planes she works. And yet another surprise was a woman named Kristin who has written a nonfiction book on the Bible. She found out about the discussion from my website. That’s a first. So in the end, we didn’t have to drink all the wine alone.
I will always be grateful to Christina for supporting me and my work. Her school is a magnificent place that brings language and travel experience to the people of Charlottesville and beyond. I wrote about her for More Magazine two years ago. On Friday, Christina arranged with the Charlottesville Writer House for me to discuss the research I did for Dear Money. That was filled with interesting people who asked terrific questions about how I learned all about the mortgage-backed securities market. The group included one economist who had worked for the FEC in NYC at the height of the bubble. It also included Kristin from the night before. Bless her. I wish New York City had a Writer House like the one run by Rachel Unkefer. The group is a nonprofit that creates a space for writers to work and take classes, and also to hear other writers speak and read.
When all the work was done, Christina and I had a delicious lunch at Orzo Kitchen and Wine Bar (yes, we indulged in a mid-day glass of Gavi) and then went shopping at our favorite store, Marshall’s, but didn’t find anything. It was a gorgeous trip. I took the train: $58! You can’t beat that for a journey that’s over 6 hours, to a spot that is stunning and filled with charm and great food and wonderful people who love to read.