Kate Elliott’s (Edit: actually, Naomi Shihab Nye — thanks for the catch, Sumana!) story-poem, “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal,” about a group of very different people — who barely spoke each other’s languages — bonding, running, laughing, and getting powdered sugar all over everyone while eating cookies in an airport terminal during a flight delay. Yes.
“[Being a nerd or geek is] not about what you love; it’s about how you love it… the way you love that, and the way you find other people who love it the way you do, is what makes being a nerd awesome. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that the thing that you love is a thing you can’t love… you find the things that you love and you love them the most that you can.”
The women of IVoW have been a blessing for me over the past 9 months of our circle. When we started in September, “woman” was an awkward adjective for me, one I’d use reluctantly to describe my identification with the female gender; now it’s a word I actually feel honest about claiming.
Our last meeting was yesterday; we shared our future plans and dreams and put our arms around each other and sang by candlelight, and talked and read and ate and cheered and sometimes cried. Barbara, Mary, Anne, Rosalie, Jamie, Jillian, Lee, Kathleen, Kristie: I’ll miss padding downstairs at dawn past your quiet tea-sipping reading in the cabin, bolting barefoot into the farm-field grass to run and run my energy into the dew and sunrise, and coming back to eggs and sausage and buttered cinnamon toast and smiles at my restlessness and hunger. How accepting you are of my wildness and youth, never trying to turn me into anything other than myself. How inspiring your lives and work and selves are to me.
I am the youngest in the group, the child raised by wolves* who finally crept back into the village, wary of the “civilization” process stripping me of my speed — only to find that standing in a women’s space let me run just as swiftly and freely with my packs while granting greater sureness to my strides and giving me a place to rest within. I felt held and rocked by all these women, grateful for the gift of space to grow within. For two days each month, I’ve been able to live and mature within a women’s world in ways I wasn’t able to when I was passing through my adolescence — and slowly, sometimes painfully and often joyfully, I learned. I am still wild and spontaneous and nomadic; still ferocious and bursting and suddenly caught by wonder — but I am also far more able able to be and love and hold and witness, bear and wait in patience, and accept stillness, veils, and silence as powers of their own, tools that can now sit alongside my whirlwind of movement and voice.
*Since leaving home at 14 for a math and science high school, I’ve privately and affectionately used the term “wolfpacks” to describe the teenage boys and young men I hacked alongside. I’ve often felt like Mowgli.
I’m not done, but at least I’ve started. Catching glimpses of that future has changed the way I hack the universe because it’s changed the way I see and listen to and move and claim mysef within that universe. The world’s just as infinitely big as it was before, but now it’s richer – as if all those soprano harmonics and flutes and violins and chimes have finally burst out into being atop the great basses and tenors that I’ve heard singing forever.
I promised them that I would build a home — and you know how I am about my promises. I found I was already doing that, and learning it by doing. (Marvelous error!) It does take a lifetime to build a life, and I am glad.