“She always had that about her, that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world.” Joanne Harris
Phoenix. 1978. I am four. Flying solo across the country, ready for my Grandma’s arms and fresh strawberries and entire days spent in the pool. I do it again 11 years later, flying solo to Europe for a summer abroad. Phoenix, I am spirit, fierce and brave, and in love with wanderlust even then.
Our family grocery store. Running the cash register before school. Hiding in the break room and eating donuts from the bakery. My blood swims with five generations of self-made businesses, teachers and fixers, with survivors and painters and church goers. I am them and they are me, and this freedom and service together, are everything.
Enchanted Hills Playhouse. Annie. I am playing an orphan, singing and tap dancing. Twenty-five years later, it will be a different kind of stage, at universities and conference ballrooms, preaching prevention. I love a stage, I love a story, and most of all, I love the chance to jam on change.
Lillehammer. Listening to the Doors on repeat in her car while she chain-smokes cigarettes. Going on long runs over country roads and writing long letters home. Lillehammer, family means the world to me. Then. Now.
Moose Village. Sitting along the banks of the Snake River, I devour Walden and Desert Solitaire and Dakota. I study the pink mountains each morning at sunrise and decide then and there I don’t need to go to law school, after all. Wyoming, I am your pioneer spirit, forging my own path.
Louisville. It was Solstice and Lunar Eclipse and she came with so much energy she was unstoppable. Louisville, I have a warrior woman inside full of grit and grace.
Taos. It was Dance of Shiva and walking the labyrinth and writing by the water. Taos, I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer.
Her couch. With candles burning and drinks in hand, we toast to all things new and muse on dreams. Her words speak truth I will carry on with me, packed inside wherever I go. I will always be an advocate.
The Hare Krishna temple and the sweatlodge in the woods and that small town Methodist church. Chanting and dancing with incense burning, sweating out the truths, singing “Be still my soul” and “Holy Holy Holy.” I am here to live with soulful devotion.
Shelby County. Thirteen women circle to find their way free again. And I witness the power of resiliency, tender and raw and real. And in the end we all have the same dream: Live. Love.
There are a hundred and one more places. Malibu. The woods. The fort in her basement. His hand. Places that have made me. Places that have taken me home.
And in the end we all have the same dream: Live. Love.