In three days, it will be April. In less than 24 hours, I am somehow supposed to have most of my things packed up and ready for movers to bring all this stuff, my stuff, to my brand new apartment. I should be packing but I'm an expert in procrastinating and the compulsion to write is stronger than it has been in months. And because I am an artist, first and foremost, who am I to ignore the spark of expression? So here we are.
In three days, it will be April and it will be the end of Women's History Month. Last night, also in lieu of packing - although I tried to multi-task, I had a Virtual Ladies Night. This is when my friends who all used to live in Boston but now are spread out across the country, do what we used to do when we all lived in the same place: drink wine or another alcoholic beverage of choice and gossip. Except we aren't actually gossiping but more like sharing our progress on being amazingly bad ass women who have careers, aspirations, dreams, goals and sure, relationships too. We do this every few months and I always feel so lucky, so privileged, to have these women in my life. They are strong and brave in the face of hard decisions and things that our male counterparts, however much we love them, just don't have to deal with. Our friendship keeps us sane, keeps us supported, keeps us safe. And well, it's times like these where I'm just real grateful for technology and that we can do all this despite timezones and area codes.
In three days, it will be April and in seven I'll be on a plane to Los Angeles. A city that hosts a whole lot of other important women I have met along my journey. My best friend from graduate school who became my friend at probably one of the most challenging times of my life. That time sort of felt like the dream you have where you're driving and all of a sudden you have no control of the car. And you're not sure if you're going to crash or end up okay – but you always wake up just fine. In this case, we both got our degrees relatively unscathed. I don't know if I could have done it without her by my side. Los Angeles is also host to many of the Latina women I was so desperate to know growing up. It's hard to believe that it took me until I was 26 years old to meet my first true Latinx friend. Even now, I try and recall having one but I can't. I knew some Latinx people but I never forged a true friendship until I moved to LA. I remember my one friend sharing with me her feeling that she had growing up: never brown enough to hang with the brown girls and never white enough to hang with the white ones. I remember finally feeling understood when another Latinx friend flawlessly made some dude feel stupid after he insensitively asked: “So, what are you?” Her response to this day makes me laugh and feel proud, “Are you asking why I'm brown?” These three women and so many many more in Los Angeles, helped me piece together my fragmented identity and for that I am grateful.
In three days, it will be April and in twelve one of my NYU college roommates will be visiting. And this reminds me of how lucky I am to live in the same city as another one of those roommates. And just how lucky I am in general that 13 years ago, I was randomly selected to live in a closet-sized dorm with three other women who I'd grow up with for the rest of my life. These women have been there through so much and sometimes know me better than I know myself. We've been on adventures both in the states and some of us abroad, and I fall in love with them over and over every time we are together. They are my sisters despite what DNA might say and I know no matter what happens in my life, these women will be there for me and I for them. They are my grateful constant.
In three days, it will be April and I'll reminisce about the time I went to a little town called Johnson, Vermont three years ago and met the most amazing writer. And she had cool written all over her from across the room and I knew immediately without saying a single word that we'd be friends. And so we were. She's smart and funny, honest and real, and wrote in a way I could only dream of writing. She has seen so much well-deserved success and I know a younger me would be jealous. But it's hard to be jealous when someone who works so hard gets the validation they deserve. It's even harder to be jealous when someone that talented cheers you on continuously. I haven't seen my dear friend in a year and I'm not quite sure the next time we'll be able to see each other but I feel her love, I hear her cheers and that will hold me over until the next time we can eat ice cream or go to yoga or even put an impossible jigsaw puzzle together.
In three days, it will be April making it that much closer to May which is the month I get to go back home and spend time with the women in my family and other women who have known me anywhere from forever to a few years. Growing up and spending much time in Boston as an adult, I have a strong network and I'm lucky that inside that network are so many different women. Women who have lived with me, women who have worked with me, women who have dealt with teenage me and of course, the women who raised me. Some of these women knew me while I was working out what “me” really meant and others got to know me while figuring out what the next “me” was going to do. They each play such a vital role in my life and it's always so rewarding to go back home to spend quality time with these important women.
In three days, it will be April and I don't have a clever transition to talk about the amazing women I met in South Africa nearly 10 years ago. Maybe I had made the decision to go on this trip in April or bought my plane ticket... I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that half way across the world I met five amazing artists who at the time all lived in New York City and together we had a life changing experience. I talk to these women far less often than I'd like but I hope they know how grateful I am for them sharing that amazing trip with me. Something on that trip shifted my entire being and these women were there to help me through it even though I don't think at the time I really understood that. No matter how much time goes by or how much distance comes between us, I hope they know just how special they all are to me.
In three days, it will be April and the two collectives I am part of and helped create will be doing exciting things here in Milwaukee. Heard Space, a performance arts collective that is women of color led and focused is gearing up for our next show. On International Women's Day, March 8, we debuted as a group and put together a show called Unpacking The Name. We shared stories about our names and opened the mic up to the audience to do the same. It was one of those nights where I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be and doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was so incredibly proud of the women in this group for working together in such a seamless way to throw what I think was an absolutely beautiful event. I can't wait for the next one and I hope if you are reading this and you live in Milwaukee you'll continue to celebrate the women in this group and the stories we want to tell (next show: May 10th at Michai's Quiet Storm, details to come). The other collective, LUNA, is a Latina artists collective and we also debuted this month, last weekend to be exact, showing work together at Swan Day displayed at Urban Ecology (it will be up for 3 months, check it out!). We talked as a group about the importance of representation and opportunity for people of color. Another moment where I felt empowered to not only be a woman but a Latinx woman. This month we are coming together to figure out how to have a group show and I could not be more excited. I am grateful for these two groups for so many reasons. They both have created safe, inclusive spaces where I feel like I can truly express myself and thereby create without feeling censored. Moreover, these groups have given me community here in Milwaukee and that is invaluable. Community is something I have realized is so necessary for my survival.
In three days, it will be April and I will make a promise to myself to do better at reaching out to my biological sisters and nieces who I met for the first time just four months ago. These women who were absent most of my life have reentered and have already made such an immense impact in such a short time. We don't speak the same language but the love is there. I see my passion in my oldest sister, my face and creativity in the other. I see a mini-me in my sister's daughter. I see my empathy, curiosity and timidness ready to bloom in the daughters of my oldest brother. And while I am trying to do a better job at reaching out to the women that share my blood, I will do my best to reconcile how I feel about the woman who made me. The woman that reflects so much of the things I don't like about myself. I have to remember that she gave me more than just things to work through but she gave me life and opportunity. For that and for all these women finding their way back into my life, I will forever be grateful.
In three days, it will be April and I will feel bad about not including certain women because I am just that lucky to have so many incredible women in my life. I will attempt to make this a catch all for the women that keep crossing my mind while I write this. Like my soon-to-be former roommate who has always been a champion of mine and who I know will long support me once I move out. Or the first friend I met on my own in Milwaukee who showed me what true generosity looks like and literally is always keeping me fed. There's my radio co-host who teases me relentlessly and keeps me laughing for days. I'm thinking about all the new female friendships I've made in the last few years that haven't fully formed but I am eager to see how they will blossom. Of course then there's the female friendships that have faded away not for any real reason but just because that's how life works sometimes but these friendships made an impact nonetheless. And all the different female teachers, professors, managers, colleagues I've had along the way who have encouraged me and allowed me to grow intellectually and professionally. And I can't forget all the female students, past and present, and former interns who I can only hope to inspire but truly just end up inspiring me. The point of all this writing is that I have an army of women who live close and far away. Who have been by my side, who help me fight, and encourage and inspire me to keep getting up no matter how often I fall. And for each and every one them: I AM GRATEFUL.
In three days, it will be April and I might forget to tell all the amazing ladies in my life that I'm grateful for them even though I never forget to feel it. This is me showing my deep appreciation for you. This is me saying, thank you, thank you, thank you.
With all my love.