A Different Kind of FullPosted: May 9, 2012
It always amazes me how quiet pivotal moments can be, how lamplit instead of firecrackery they can come.
I started out taking pictures. Freshly torn butter lettuce. Walnuts steaming from their pan toasting seconds before. Oozing blue cheese. Apple slices so thin you can see through them. Oil emulsifying with a pool of fresh herbs and lemon juice and balsamic vinegar and a warm spoonful of honey. After a few shots, though, I just stopped. My mind was both intensely focused on making this simple salad sing, and wandering up the road to Sacramento. Sacramento was our shared destination, after all.
Over the winter holidays I was given a book by Rae Gouirand–one of my bosses at my internship, and also an intensely brilliant and beautiful writer and thinker–called “The Chronology of Water” by Lidia Yuknavitch. It is one of those books that I have a hard time describing with words because all that wants to come out of me are guttural cries of adoration and gratitude peppered with a healthy amount of holy crap. It is a book that makes it possible to be me. It is a book that makes it possible to be you. It is raw meat and choked throats and sex and sadness and forgiveness and fucking up and standing up and standing up and standing up over and over and over again. It is a book for the spaces in between, for the people in between. It is a warm hug. It is feminist-queer-praxis at its finest. It is and it is and it is and it refuses to not be. It is one of those books that you are terrified to close once you read the last word, that sits there in your lap holding you in the space of its kinship while you work up the stamina to carry it in your heart beyond its pages and into the world. It is a book that–for me, anyway–radically changes its reader. It absolutely radically alters both grammar and lexicon alike, sucks them into the body and refuses to parse.
And then Rae told me about Lidia’s online class at LitReactor. And I took it, because after reading her book I started letting i might be a writer i am a writer i could be a writer maybe i am a writer loop around my brain and I liked the way that identity idea felt there. Plus, it was online. Nobody would ever even know who I am. I could fail miserably and anonymously, which is just my kind of risk.
It was an incredible class. It kicked my ass every single week. Every week I scraped and clawed my way through the assignments only to remain firmly at the bottom of the heap. I lapped it up and felt loss when class ended.
And then Rae invited me to this dinner she runs with her writing workshops. In Sacramento. Lidia was the guest of honor. I was to bring salad.
Needless to say, I considered the salad for days. Transporting a salad two hours in 80 degree heat ultimately made my decisions for me, though. I didn’t want a bowl of wilt when I got there, so I keep things light and as fresh as possible.
The rest of the evening is mine, is still forming, still bleeding through. But there was a moment, yes? A moment in a living room surrounded by women–mostly a generation older–and art, lamplit and wine-softened, where for the first time in my life I wanted to be bigger. Instead of disappearing, I wanted to claim space, to have place, to be seen. I let my belly loosen, proud of its steadfast softness since birthing Maxine. I stopped fidgeting with my hair and let my hands rest in my lap. I ate heartily and without reserve. I sat up tall. I laughed. I asked a question.
I smiled the whole way home, and through the next day; I smile every time I think of that night. It is the first night I felt my space–not as mother, not as partner, not as sister, not as daughter, but as writer, as stander-upper, as self-nurturer and self-barer and self-advocate.
Oh, and the salad bowl was empty when I picked it up from the table on my way to the door. Victories abound.