I typed my whole God Damned (“RUTH ELIZABETH!” my mom used to chastise when I’d “take the lord’s name in vain”.) . . . I typed my whole God Damned Last Post a couple weeks ago. And while I was editing it, my computer overheatedand shut down before I could save the data. That’ll teach me. I rationalized the loss the way I rationalize most losses: some version of “this is for the best.” Whatever I had written about wasn’t supposed to be my last post, I figured. I was supposed to write about something else. What? Hmm . . . let’s find out . . .
Prelude: I had put this off because I really didn’t want this project to end. I can see that closing up shop at the one year mark is a good thing. I completely support Clare & Stacy for ending it when and how they did. But that doesn’t change my sadness at having to say goodbye to this thing called “Thirty Voices.”
I found my way here through Erica. Her continued presence in my life comes with a sweet dose of serendipity. And I take Serendipity very seriously. Years ago, she and I met in a writing class and continued writing together for months afterwards with some of our fellow students.
Meanwhile, one of my former group therapy mates (who happened “by coincidence” to be substitute teaching a yoga class I visited one Sunday afternoon) invited me to come with her and a group she was putting together for a hiking trip at Yosemite. I was a “hill walker” – and had only dared to wander onto fire roads and paths marked “easy”. The idea of ending up on a more difficult trail with people who might pressure me to venture into knee wobbly climbing-like situations scared me. And yet, this was a “Yes Season” of my life so I decided to attend.
Who shows up on the trip? Erica! Los Angeles is a city of 7 million people. What are the chances that a woman I had befriended in writing class would know the woman I had become reacquainted with at a random yoga class – and that we’d both agree to come along on the same camping trip? How very California. I pointed my finger at Erica and said, “Oh. I’m supposed to know you. We’re supposed to know each other.”
I still remember the day we left base camp (I love saying “base camp”. Especially when I’m wearing capilene.) We left base camp and set out for the top of the falls. That day, we hiked higher than I ever thought I would in my whole life. Now, when I look at that picture of the top, I think, I was there. A glorious and amazing place in the world – and I was there. One of the best places the planet has to offer – and I was there. I wasn’t looking at a photo or the screen of a TV; I was there. I was living.
That was years ago. I’m not in touch with anyone else from that trip except Erica. One of the things I love about aging is looking back over time and seeing which individuals and events rise to the top of our consciousness as being important. That semi-annual email from an old friend while other people from the past remain silent means something. In one of E’s annual notes, there was a link to 30 voices. I followed it.
You women — and the environment we shared here — put me back in touch with one of my favorite parts of myself: “Writer Ruth”. For that, I’m so grateful. My experience of putting my thoughts out into the world is so different now than it was when I nervously over-thought my first post. For better or worse, I now feel comfortable, free, relaxed – just offering my truth. I continue to do so on a fairly regular basis at my own blog: Mary and Bob’s Journal.
And I’ve learned that paying attention to serendipity and letting my response be, “Yes,” leads me into situations where I find myself feeling good about being just who I am. It leads me into situations where I end up being better than I thought I could be. Going to the top of that waterfall. Writing ideas I’ve never thought before. Meeting people I never would have met. People who I’ll point at and say, “I’m supposed to know you. We’re supposed to know each other.” Living.
Thank you, women of 30 voices. Thank you, Erica. Thank you Clare and Stacy.
Ruth, 38, Los Angeles, USA