For Laura and Kitty and Cheryl and Lorna and Keats
When the woman who changed your life more than anyone other than your mother invites you to spend a week writing with her and a handful of her friends, you know it’s going to be good.
But nothing prepared me for Laura. She was the first person who, when I held her head as I did Reiki, I felt the bones of her scalp move. But that wasn’t even the most memorable part. Neither was the mayonnaise story or the drawings or the fact that she packed everything she needed for a week in what some people might call a purse. It wasn’t her storytelling ability or the fact that even though she had Lyme disease she shone brighter than the healthiest of yoginis walking the streets in Tulum where we were staying. It was her eyes. She looked at everyone, at me, like: Sweet Jesus, you are here, and what on earth are you going to do next?
When an accomplished artist looks at you like you are special and she can’t wait to see what you do next, well, really that is what it feels like when you are a kid and your mom looks at as if you’re the bee’s knees just because you walked in the door. It feels like there’s enough of everything on the planet and that something exciting is bound to happen because you have a heart and a brain and eyes and someone loves you.
I met Laura a couple of months ago, and every time she emails me, the craziest thing happens: I don’t write back. I get so excited to hear from her, to hear about her life as an artist and as an observer and as a daughter and as someone living with Lyme disease that I walk around and think email to her. If I write back, I disrupt the flow of Laura to Anne, Anne to Laura with the reality of keys banging, and I love the flow of possibility, of the unsaid, of the magical fact that this woman wrote and illustrated a hilariously gruesome story about mayonnaise and read it to me by the pool of the lavish house in which we were staying as if I were a child. I love that someone I spent a handful of hours with in Mexico is someone whom I am sure will be a life-long friend. How does that even happen? We meet so many people in our lives! How do the forevers do that? How do they stick?
The woman who had invited me to the house had become a forever after we’d spent less than a handful of hours together at a writing retreat. I think she became a forever when she told me a story about riding a horse with her father. Finding a forever is like getting the flu. It just happens and you don’t even see it coming.
As an adoptee (and as a human), I both crave and fear connection. I love thinking about Laura, wondering what she will say next, wondering what she will create next, do next. Loving others is exciting because it’s also a way to love the whole world as well as ourselves. If someone else can do cool things, then, logic goes, so can I.
The fear part has to do with loss. When you have been adopted it means you have lost the most unlosable thing a human could be parted from aside from her own life, and part of you expects everything to follow suit. It’s hello goodbye fever and it’s not a lot of fun. As soon as something wonderful comes into your life, you wait for it to disappear. If you really have the fever, you push it out the door so you can end the waiting.
Last year, when I was writing You Don’t Look Adopted, I told two new friends that I realized my brain needed to hear I love you and I’ll never leave from those I cared for, and those two sweet women still say it to me when we talk or email. They are forevers.
My daughter is a forever. She could burn down the house I was living in with me in it, and I would still love her. It’s not her face or her hands or her heart or her laugh or her handwriting or the way she hugs me. I don’t know what it is. It’s so big it’s small. I could carry her in a hollowed-out bean or I could replace the solar system with what she is to me.
I wrote this today because Laura said she reads my blog as if each post was to her. And in a way they are. But this one was to her so much her name is all over it. I want to thank her for making my life brighter. For writing to me and for understanding that when I don’t write back it’s not because I’ve gone radio silent. I have so much to say to her. So much that has nothing to do with words.
I wonder if when you breathe and love someone she hears it?
That would be so nice.