Yesterday, I ran away to here. This building. It’s not much, a singular, non-descript gray building in the middle of Silverton. The doors have now been painted a Chinese Lantern orange. Someone pulled the old taxis bushes from the window box and planted a colorful array of pansies which sway gently in the wind or as I whisk by.
Upon entering, I am immediately greeted by old friends. They are old friends in that we know each other in our souls and through our words, our writing words that is. Everyone here is a writer, not because they have all published books, but because we believe that every one here is a writer. Everyone outside these doors are writers too.
It is SupoortWomen Artists Now (SWAN) Day. The vast interior of the building is filled with folk music, landscape art, intricate quilts, and laughs about bowling, middle age, white chocolate peppermint bark. As I settle into a chair and put my purse on the floor, I let my shoulders down too.
I am carrying so much weight these days, not on my frame, not in my purse, but in my heart, my head. I wanted to step outside all of that and be free for a time. I was met by hearty renditions of the Andrews’ Sisters, Bei Mir Bistu Shein, To Me you are beautiful, originally sung at the Apollo Theatre, and a stirring tribute to Raison d‘ Etre’s lead signer’s grandmother, as she imagined the two of them, sipping tea, listening to grandmother’s stories. I leaned my head against a column and slipped away into this portrait she was painting.
Someone asked if I planned to read later, at the open mic readaround. I had no copies of any of my work, other than a book published years ago, which languished on a bookshelf for others to take down and ponder. I didn’t even have my smart phone, where I could have accessed my blog, and read one of many entries about Alzheimer’s, life in the city, or the sunflowers that grew rampant last summer. I wondered if I had purposely left the phone at home to disconnect from the flurry of calls I had received earlier that day about the sale of my parents’ home.
No, I was hear to listen. To hold others’ words. That was no more apparent than when I found myself in conversation with a gentleman who had been one the guests on our podcast show. His son had committed suicide but his son’s life was now being lifted up in a play. He asked if I was available attend the reading of the script. We discussed many facets of the play and life for a period of time, and I found myself realizing how gratifying it can be, to sometimes be the listener of the stories and not the teller.
To sometimes be the holder is equal an escape from ordinary life. If one is the teller, you are in the midst of trying to figure it all out. But if one is the listener, you are holding the words upon their release, as one might a special gift. In it, you might find delight, sadness, or your own wisdom.
I left the day, with a tune by local artist, Shelley Graf, in my head – an earworm worth keeping around…”I’m amazed that her spirit dances on.” And really, resilience is all we can ask for in this life, that, and a way station, a place and time to rest, contemplate, and gather strength from the journeys of others.
Women Writing for a Change
SWAN Day, 2012