Yesterday I was at a gathering of great writers. 20 people, all of them published, powerful global speaker flown in from DC, and me feeling like a fraud with my scuffed up journal and cheap clicking ballpoint pens. The first person I noticed was this beautiful black woman. Everything about her struck me as full and meaningful, from her wide soft hair or her honey conviction voice that had no shame, no hesitation whatsoever. I wrote that I wanted to crawl into her lap and learn. I hoped the thin german next to be wouldn’t notice those words. People went around and shared their works and I knew mine were mostly hopes but I said them anyway. Immediately I scribbled my doubt down in my journal:
“I sit and write and I write and sit and drink and if it is a more conservative group I drink coffee -am I a writer or a poser?”
I was on the verge of leaving at that point -not walking out but checking out through the texts that were silently lighting up my phone. Demands - it took a dozen phone calls and three separate babysitters to be able to come to that event. I told my partner I wouldn’t mind switching places with him and he asked how I would possibly be able to support all of us. Friends need me, family needs me, and I am damn good at loving them so what the hell am I doing here? What makes me think I have anything new or important to say? Who cares anyway?
Then the guest speaker began- a dark lean man with tattoos peeking from behind the rolled sleeves of his black button down. His called himself an introvert with extroverted tendencies, but there was nothing introverted about his ambition. He described how he came from a place where he thought no one cared, how he reconciled his own story and the doors opened. This man finished his book and went to South Africa, he went to Rio, he’s going back, they want him back. I can see he might be running, but I respect that he’s not stopping.
Underpinning everything he said was this raw vulnerability. It was so beautiful, so attractive, that I couldn’t help the tears spilled from my eyes, my engaged head nodding my presence, my affirmation. Then he told us, he told me, to go get what I deserve.
I do not know if I deserve this. I just know I need to try.
So here is where it begins. Last night, the speaker said to write a 6 words sentences about what you wanted your life to be about. I knew exactly what my 6 words were today, and I also knew that they were all wrong, not at all what I want my life to be about. This is my attempt to change. I want to be a doula, a writer, I want to engage in the human experience with all that I can -I want to touch everything, feel everything, and to know you too. Join me on this journey- I need your stories and your insight and experiences because we were not meant to be alone. I promise to laugh at myself often, to stay up late and wake early, to gripe together, and notice small things, and fill every moment I can with connection.
Let’s do this.
Oh, and just to wrap up the story, that beautiful woman I first noticed, she was reading the book I brought along in my bag. She hugged me and prayed for me and invited me to the next meeting. The speaker took my number -next time he's in Portland, we're going to go food cart hopping. My partner does want this for me, he just wants the bills covered as well. And the babysitters survived.
Erin is a doula, writer, mother to men, and teacher on permanent hiatus. She loves how writing connects us and thrives on the bright edges of human experience.