I looked at A. I had not seen her in a good six years; since I had left my position as her nanny while she sported the job as freelance writer. I couldn't take the corporate bullshit of the job I was in as a mental health counselor and I went back to my roots -- caring for children.
A looked beautiful. She had make-up on, killer knee-high black boots and I swear she melted away some weight. Her hair was scrunched into, I imagine, natural curls that hung around her face and her black-framed glasses that she took off and put on again throughout the meeting made her look, to me, all the more sophisticated and beautiful. And smart.
And she led the meeting with this great man I had the honor of meeting today, Dr. Harry Boyt. I'm afraid to try to summarize the meeting for fear, that out of my naivete and meager understanding of what he is all about, that I will get something wrong and do him and his work a disservice.
As he spoke about activism and engagement in civic matters, I was left speechless at moments, struck by the truth of what he just said. The brilliance of his thoughts. His years of work,practicing what he preached (successfully) and study showed.
At times I was overcome with connection to what it was he was saying. When he said "everyone has a story. You must speak to someone with radically different beliefs than yours. And you must do it with curiosity." I wondered if he had met me in a past life. I have uttered the words "everyone has a story" countless times. And I am wildly curious about people's stories. All their stories. And so why it had never occurred to me, in one of my daydreams of talking to someone just to get their story, to talk to a person with a "conservative" viewpoint, I don't know. But Dr. Boyt's advice made sense.
And non-partisanship is beginning to make sense to me. But, and that is a big but, letting go of our own stance to begin problem solving is hard, hard work. I have no answers.
After the meeting, A and I caught up with one another on a more personal level. And then we began talking about my writing, my views, how it can fit with her writing, her organization. She pointed out that I don't like bullying, or imbalance of power, or exclusion. Yes. Now what? I don't know. We are meeting again to shake things out further.
We talked about mothering
I talked about the time I landed in therapy when the twins were four or five months old. Depressed and anxious, I told the grandmotherly therapist, who also happened to be a grandma of twins, that "all the moms of multiples I met 'loved' mothering. They were happy in their marriage. They were managing their double load of babies and toddlers, still cleaning and cooking. And smiling and laughing." I told her how I couldn't do it. That it was really fucking hard, just about every moment of it. That at times, I would dislike my twins or feel burdened by them. I was horrible.
She looked at me and said,
"I think all those moms are smoking crack. Quit meeting with them."
I told A today that she appeared strong and solid during the time I worked for her. A told me that she didn't feel she was strong, and that she was often overwhelmed. I still think she was and is strong. Sometimes being strong is not about holding it all together, it's about having the courage to let it all fall apart and having faith that the pieces will get picked up. That's what I should have said to A today when I met with her.
And I wish I would have asked her if, as an introvert, raising a curious, energetic, spirited-child was draining. Did she ever, as I do with my -- high needs, for lack of better language -- four-year-old just feel the need to say "Go away. Please, I beg you. You are swallowing me whole."?
We talked about my ability to be real in my experience as a mom. To say things that others think, but dare not say. She validated the difficulty of living up to impossible rules of being a perfect white suburban mom.
The meeting had to wrap up. The topic of pay came up. It will be scant. But A can teach me to be more effective as a Change Writer. "That's ok. I'm not here for money." And while part of me didn't want the moment that I had been waiting for -- but never knew I was waiting for -- to end, I was drained.
The topics, the conversations, the ideas were intense. Even more intense, was the realization that by sticking with my guns, staying true in my voice, and daring myself to give into passion, I was accepted. And I was acknowledged -- as a writer -- who can make a difference.
I'm arriving. And I couldn't have planned it better myself.