It rarely hurts to ask

Y'all may have heard me opine that it never hurts to ask. I mean it, the older I get the more I believe that little can be lost (and actually, much can be gained) by simply asking, politely and earnestly, that about which you wonder. Also, gratitude. Giving thanks goes a long way.

A minute example are the espresso cups and saucers I once admired at my family's favorite Italian restaurant in Houston (growing up in Lake Charles, we had to head to Houston for most ethnic food and foreign film experiences) and shyly asked our lovely waiter, an older, silver-haired man who had the most gracious and charming disposition, if I might be able to purchase a set.

He wrapped them up lovingly, and I still have them all twenty years later. Six porcelain cups painted with scenes from six magical Italian cities, and sturdy saucers to seat them atop.

I have a water carafe from a restaurant in an Italian hill town for exactly the same reason, although the charming waiter there was much younger.

Back in January, I read a Modern Love essay in Sunday's New York Times that really struck me. I loved the way it was crafted, and elements of it resonated deeply with slivers of my own life as they were then. 

A few days later, still thinking of that piece, I googled the author (Ellen Urbani), found her website, emailed her a note of admiration and thanks and rather imagined that was that. 

Imagine my surprise when she wrote back and when our correspondence continued. Imagine my delight when I asked if, during her book tour swing through DC in the fall (her second book, Landfall, was just released a few weeks back!), she might want to teach a personal essay writing class. Imagine that this morning, when I opened my front door to Ellen and we hugged and she came in to teach class, that I was awfully glad I'd asked.

A few writer friends and I sat around my table and ate and laughed and learned from this loveliest of women who generously spent two hours of her busy day with us. And tonight, I heard her present her book, and we hugged again and snapped a pic, and as I drove home, I smiled up at the beautiful sliver moon and was reminded that the world is full of possibilities. Sometimes all you need do is ask.