|Some of the Wild Women at a writing retreat in Maine in 2009|
A few Sundays ago, I got together with a phenomenal group of women known collectively as the wild women. For ten years, we wrote together weekly. Writing was the cornerstone of our little circle, but we were so much more than writers who wrote together. Together, we were a creative force to be reckoned with, a grand and extraordinary orchestration of voices.
I was the group’s unlikely workshop leader, a woman who needed to spill words to the page and thought that maybe, just maybe, there would be joy in spilling out words with likeminded people. The group was formed and, oh, there was joy. There was joy and laughter and a tear or two. Out of joy and laughter and tears, friendships grew. I have been blessed beyond blessed to have these incredible, diverse and intelligent women in my life. Women who create. Women who are true to themselves.
I haven’t always been true to myself. For years, I tried to mold myself into an image of perfect women: the nice girl became the good wife and mother. Of course, I was far from perfect. I knew all along that perfection was a myth and yet I clung to it. I clung so hard that I forgot to listen to the cool, still voice inside of me. The voice that had always whispered a single word in my ear: create. It wasn’t a word I trusted. I had no real life connections to those who called themselves artists. From afar, they seemed a strange and self-indulgent bunch. And yet, as I kept trying on the titles- Artist, Writer,Poet- I found they fit me well. As I began to write, I grew to be more and more comfortable inside my skin.
In the company of wild women, I can just be. This is a great gift. There are no hard and fast expectations, there is no need to act a certain way or to impress. If I tell them I feel like lying down and crying on occasion, they will answer yes, we know that feeling. If I tell them what made me laugh aloud the other day, they will laugh and share their own funny stories. The joys, the sorrows that are mine are also theirs. Each of us knows what it is like to love and to lose and pick yourself up again. We know how difficult it can be to say to the world: “Here I am, take me or leave me, but please don’t try to change me.”
We no longer meet as a workshop, each having stepped forward into the next part of her life. But we still get together now and again. And so we were on that Sunday, women of a certain age now, each with our own stories to tell. If I were queen of the world, I’d bestow good life and happiness to everyone. Most of all, I would bestow friends like these, the wild women.