Thursday, February 25, 2010
Last night I visited with an old friend. I'm not quite sure if she's aware of the role she's played in my life, but I was reminded of how extremely valuable she is (and was) to me after spending an hour with her. She's one of those individuals that is extremely reflective--her brain probably never shuts up. She's quite self-obsessed, but I realized that her self-obsession is what gives her the ability to do what she does, and being so has helped her change history. I watched her move, I watched her hands, her mouth...she's got the same mannerisms she had when we first met. The only thing that's different is her energy. It doesn't have that crack-like, non-stop electricity. It's still there, but just comes through in waves. It's been 15 years tho--who doesn't slow down a little in that time?
Listening to her made me realize the impact she had on my development as a woman. I was reminded of the strength she embedded in me at nineteen....how her poetry pulled me into a new world of self-definition and understanding. I didn't have to be a pretty little girl who would marry someone from my hometown and start popping out babies at 23. That's what most women around me did, but I knew I wanted something more. She made me realize I could be more, because she was more.
She's a go-getter. She started following her dream at 14 and has created her own empire based upon the work she started as a teenager. How many people have that kind of follow through these days? It reminds me of the immigrants who came over at the turn of the last century--"we had nothing but a dream and we worked and worked and worked until that dream became a reality." And the reality that she has built is beautiful. It's complex. It probably has a few loop holes. But the foundation and core of her working reality is an undeniable balance to an industry that has sold women out on surface appeal. And this balanced work has longevity. I stood beside sweaty teenagers last night, college girls who (in unison forgot to wear deodorant) have just discovered her. I watched how the girls watched her and felt like I was peering into a mirror image of me at 19. I watched them stare at her, yearn to be her, fantasize of being in bed with her, yearn to make their mark like her. She is crossing over into a new generation. I witnessed this and was in awe.
Like she has so many, many times, she spoke to me last night. She gently reminded me that the world is a damn beautiful place, and even the shitty, ugliness of people can be a beautiful thing. She helped me fall back in love with my life, back in love with the complexity of what it means to love, back in love with understanding the nature of people and the personal strings we let them pull.
Ani DiFranco. I may not connect to her the way I did years ago, but I can tap into the history of that connection in an instant while in her presence. I am a loyal fan. Somehow, though we have never truly met, I believe in and love her like a loyal friend.