This past weekend, I was in a sweet little shop in Galena, IL where I was celebrating the wedding of my old roommate Ami Copeland. Nestled amongst the rubber duckies dressed as a bikers and band-aids that looked like strips of bacon I stumbled across a whole treasure trove of Curly Girl cards, including one that said "Sometimes 'right back where you started from' is right where you belong." Once again CG, you know just the way to my heart.
There's been a lot lately that feels very "full circle". And I'm not just talking about the ponytail. Two weeks ago I co-hosted a party for my friend Michi's new book How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice. Michi and I were childhood best friends who did everything together. We started to drift apart after I went off to college, but hung in through our early 20's (long enough for me to help her plan her first wedding and bury her father). But we couldn't stop the gravitational pull of opposite planets that was taking us in different directions, and by the time Michi found out she had cervical cancer at age 26, I was out of the picture and had no idea she was sick.
Fast forward 10 years to my own mother's death. Michi reached out (thank you, Facebook) to send her condolences. She became a real source of comfort in that way that only people who also grew up with your parents and knew them "back when" can be.
Six months later I was diagnosed with cancer myself and when Michi gave me her unfinished and unpublished memoir to read as a source of information and encouragement, I suggested she hire an editor to help her refine it, flesh it out and get it published. She asked if I would do it. So I did -- in between chemo treatments. We spent months patiently going through Michi's book line by line, page by page and version by version, crafting and honing the story of her own dance with the dragon.
A year later I am cancer-free, her book is on Amazon.com, and Michi and I are now closer than ever. We're close in a new way, forged by time and wisdom and growing up, and looking death in the face and saying "not me, not now, not yet."
A week after the book party I found out I had been elected to board of directors of Women in Film and Video. For those of you who fall into that "knew me back when" category you will know that aside from Democratic politics, WIFV was my mom's big life passion. She also served on the board of directors and then later on the advisory board and frequently roped me into licking envelopes, taking tickets at film festivals and working the sign-in table at events.
When President Sandy Cannon-Brown heard I had thrown my hat in the ring for a board seat she said both "you know we all loved your mom" and "I do believe you are our first legacy candidate." It's a legacy I"m intensely, fiercely proud of. The whole thing feels very Sophoclean, but in a good way. Now when I show up at a WIFV event, it won't be because someone bribed me by promising me I could use the car for the weekend.
As I write this, I'm sitting in my new, fancy 5th floor apartment with a beautiful view of the trees that line Connecticut Avenue. And I can't help but smile at the fact that I'm living a mere four blocks where from where it all started 15 years ago when I struck out on my own in my first big-girl apartment, a baby-sized DSP living in an English basement, braving the urban jungle. Okay fine, Cleveland Park doesn't really qualify as an "urban jungle" but it is technically in the city and once I skinned my nose outside the 7-11 on the corner trying out my kickboxing moves after a few too many cocktails, which really, really hurt -- and not just my pride.
Anyway, the point is, I'm back where I started. And I have to say, it feels pretty cathartic. Sometimes to fully understand how far you've come, you need to look out over the landscape of your life from the same vantage point but with 15 years under you belt. The scenery is more or less the same, but the glasses you're wearing allow you to see it all in a very different way. It may feel like starting over, but it's really about appreciating where you've been, how it's shaped you, has left imprints on your soul, on the world, on the people around you. How nothing and everything can be the same all at once.
"Sometimes 'right back where you started from' is right where you belong." Sometimes, it is. And that card? I bought and framed it.