Sunday Reads: Life is Long
And there is a fugitive heiress next door
This week, I got to go to Omaha, Nebraska, and give a talk at the Bemis Center. I talked about the power of stories and not giving up, even when you are losing. I talked about Voltaire and the power of tending to our own gardens. And it was a lovely night. I was worried no one would show up. But so many people came. Including, Erin, a lovely friend from high school, and Kristin, my first friend when I moved to the Midwest. Both of those women knew me back with I was just braces and a big mouth and a bad bob haircut. And it means so much to me that they showed up.
Apparently, 25 years ago, I made Erin a stack of homemade cards and she wrote me a note on one of them and handed it to me at the event. And it means so much to have people who knew you in your most cretinous adolescent forms still love you and still believe in you. People who have watched you try on selves like clothes in a Gap dressing room, struggling from one ill-fitting self to another and another, until finally something fits.
It’s also a gift to watch them, even if from afar. My friend Kristin has built this beautiful amazing incredible life for herself and her family that is so wildly different than anything I could have ever imagined. And so much better. I’m so glad that my life and all of our lives are not trapped by the limits of our imaginations. And what a gift it is to watch people recreate their lives and give you the courage to do the same.
My daughter is going into 7th grade, that’s the age I was when my family uprooted our life in Texas and we moved to Sioux City and then Vermillion, South Dakota. And I tell her often that her life will not always be like this. That one-day things will change and she will be older and the world will be bigger and brighter and make so much more sense. And maybe the people who make up her world now, will not be so crucial in the future. And maybe they will. And maybe the people who show up for you will surprise you. But to just hold onto the hope of change.
At the Bemis Center, there is an art exhibit titled “The Presence in the Pause” that is female artists reflecting on domesticity, and physical presence. One painting by the artist Celeste Rapone, depicts a young girl in a tracksuit in an awkward body fold beneath a patio table with a walkman tangled around her. It’s a meditation on the awkwardness of youth, the way we bend and tuck ourselves in unnatural ways to make ourselves fit in the world that doesn’t want us to bring our whole selves. So much of my life has been spent unlearning how to unfold myself from beneath that patio table.
We talk a lot about how life is short. And it is. But it is also long, and complicated and full of grace.
Okay, do you want some links? Here you go.