We unspool over the miles, then spool up again as the ones ahead pause to let those of us behind catch up. I am talking now about the group I bicycle with; sometimes twelve of us gather for this charitable ride every spring. But the same is true for my writing group, six of us. Some months we seem far apart: a few wrapped up in work or personal issues and far from their writing, a few deep in a project and writing fast and onward. Some months we’re closer together, all in a funk, or all on fire. Sometimes one of us is flagging. Sometimes the rest remember to wait; sometimes it’s a while until we realize we’ve lost someone in the rear. Sometimes we get what we need from each other; sometimes we don’t. It’s hard sometimes to ask for what one needs. Sometimes it’s hard to know. Sometimes I fall behind and I just want my fellow riders to wait for me. Sometimes I’d just as soon they go on, and I’ll just trundle along as best I can at my own pace. Sometimes I want my group to fuss over me. And sometimes they do. Sometimes I’m happy to fuss over them. And sometimes I remember to do so. Some days you just need to ride alone. Or maybe just stay home. It’s okay to stay home now and then. Some rides it’s rainy and chilly; some days are divine. But in general, what I remember best is the laughter, the chitchats as we roll along first beside one person, then another, the lovely end of the ride when we’re all ruddy cheeked and ready to rest. But the writing ride has no end, really. The writing group meetings are a chance for us to rest for a minute by the side of the road, catch up, catch our breaths, review where we’ve been and where we’re off to next. And see who’s remembered to bring snacks.