This is a story about a girl who meets another girl from another time. Do I write it in first person since it actually happened to me? Yes. Do I write it as a novel? Just write and it will find its own shape. It may take on many forms. It could be a performance with music and poetry. It could be a painting or sculpture. Let it become what it wants to become. Let it evolve of its own will and vision.
This is a story about Alice who lived from about 1847 to 1890. She may have been born anytime up to 1850. The dates will come.
This is a story about Dawn who was born in 1970 and still lives and writes. She has something to say but what it is unclear to her yet. Through the exercise of writing with the intention to create a cohesive piece that can be passed around in a nice human hand-sized container, it will be done.
Now I – Dawn—am mining for the precious creation that I believe to be present in this mine that I have entered gingerly many times, afraid of what may fall or sudden cavernous openings that may swallow me alive. I have passed by and meandered near this opening in the earth, hearing a call from within it. I hear the call still and now I respond with the reverence and reservations that a blast of courage will cause to fall away.
This story of two women across time, comforting each other. Alice finds no comfort from me since she is in the past, but I feel her often in my life. I know the fel of her and I hear her call me to pen and paper. We are united in our yearning for time to write and climb the “hill of knowledge.”
Where did her knowledge lead her? She couldn’t climb the hill with her era’s required status of wife and mother. For her in her time, that was the only definition of womanhood…or one of the handful, if there were indeed others.
But for me, a child who watched the women on television with their ERA signs and heard the hollering of people speaking against “women’s libbers.”
“A woman’s place is in the home.”
I remember touching the white gloves on my little lady-like fingers and wanting to take them off and get in the mud with my brothers. I wore shorts under my dresses so I could flip and climb freely. That is my world of liberation and new freedom.
My task as a way-finder allowed me to find my own way to express womanhood. I started in a career that had been open to women for a century or so; I was a teacher. But what I really wanted was to spend time, as Alice wrote in 1866, “devoted to the delightful task of writing in my book.”
Will I see the achievement of equality of men and women? Will I try to be a man in a woman’s body, bullying and towering over the ones I am in charge of? What is the new way to be a woman?
I’ve tried marriage. I’ve tried motherhood. It hasn’t worked for me yet, and the time is passed for me to mother children of my own. The sorrow of missing out on that experience has largely healed. I have a relationship with a man who I respect and love.
I have an opportunity for a new kind of womanhood. But I’m still trying to understand how it looks and feels.
That is what this story explores.