This is an open letter to a woman I have only seen (at a poetry reading) but not met; Facebooked (but not met). She sent me an e-mail lovely and self-revelatory and all I could think of was how different we were. I struggled with the differences and responded with some quick tart comments.
And that was that.
That was in late November. I'm not going to explore why it took so long to get my thoughts together. I suppose I should celebrate the fact that I'm not spending another ten years in shame and hostility as I consider a fate (uh, romanticized word) different from mine, (fate: as if I were a Greek maiden who risked Hera's rancor by sleeping with Zeus, or daughter of a tragic hero destined for an eye-catching end). I'm neither; I'm an American woman, for good and bad and bad and good.
My friend wrote--I can't find the e-mails--she was a bit of a loner and suspected I was the same.
And I was off and running on the endless track in my wee brain.
First off, friend, I wanted to say, I am not a loner, I'm a joiner. My ten years in Seattle were joining upon joining. My joining in New York was hampered, true. I attended the world's most unfriendly grad. school which set a pace. For years, New York City was me bouncing against brick walls and I tried to be part of various literary communities. The closest I came was to have my photo in a PEN newsletter with the wrong name identifying me. Last year I volunteered to be part of a jury for a PEN prison writing competition and was told they "were going in a different direction (with PEN members)" which was a lie. PEN members weren't chosen as jurors, something I have strong experience with (jurying), blah blah. More of the same.
I digress. Friend, you've been married, twice as I understand it, have grown children. I am a spinster. No kids. Health issues affecting every adult decade. Allergy issues that had me identifying with The Sleeping Detective so much I couldn't watch. Economic hardship as a way of life.
But that's it. All the above is a way of life. My tendency to see myself as a victim is a tendency and a poor insight into the fates' weavings. It's true that my combination of extreme wit, verbal skill, brains and imperfect body, plus my age (as in my being old enough to have lived through unrestrained open hatred of smart women) has stood in my way but my greatest obstacle to, uh, happiness, a.k.a. self-acceptance has been me.
We were getting to know each other because we share a subversive perspective. The differences--marriage (to a man or woman, I'm open) are not indictments. It may be we are each of us creatures of light and individuality and my only "problem" has been my struggle with my lights and my extreme (yeah, I can be pretty extreme) Sarah-ness.
Emerson wrote, Each man is a unique. This woman is a uniquer unique.
Friend, because there's no point in my going into enough detail to identify you or further blueprint my schema of correspondences and lights Trojan War-long and then some, I'm holding off on specifics.
But let me say this. I remember when I read Lee Ann Roripaugh's second book, wondering how she had the guts to reveal so much. By the time I met Lee Ann, I'd forgotten (me being me), and assured her I found nothing her mother might object to in her work. A week or so later I remembered being blown away by Roripaugh's openness. Other writers, poets, bloggers lead the way in honesty.
In brief: A good writer should be so simple that (s)he has no faults, only sins. [Yeats' journal]
Perhaps: Sarah Sarai was sent to earth to help Team Poetry save the righteous.