November. I novel write in November. I use the excuse of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to bang out as much of a draft on a new project as I can. It’s demanding. I’m not one of those writers who will tell you how much I love the process, I’m one of those writers who fights with herself every day about word count, plot points, scenes that work or don’t work. Truthfully, I’m a train wreck to be around. I don’t care what’s going on in your life, I only care about cranking out a couple of thousand words every day. But here I am, with something so important burning inside of me, that I am breaking away from my work to tell a different story, a story that is bigger than me and begging me to write it down. This one’s for you, Kitty.
Kitty and I met when we were twenty. I can’t tell you exactly how–something to do with a party at the naked lady magazine she worked for, a joint we smoked on the fire escape, and the chocolate cake that kept calling our names. In youth you can meet someone and recognize them immediately, and then you are friends forever. I recognized her. We became roommates within months of that first meeting and lived a rich 1970’s experience. Our twenties were replete with a house in Laurel Canyon where you could often find a stray musician who stopped by to play us a new song and a box of grass and rolling papers sitting on the coffee table. Our friends were runners at the music publishing houses and record companies who worked hard and would grow up to become executives one day, wielding power, arrogance and self importance with the best of them. Then, in the 1970’s we were all just a bunch of kids trying to figure out how to do life.
Dancing until the bars closed. Smoking pot. Listening to music. Working on less than four hours sleep and waking up excited about every day. In some ways it was a shallow, but terribly fun existence that can only looks good on a twenty-something. And Kitty, well Kitty was the one I recognized, and she recognized me. So we took time with each other that we didn’t take with other people. We took time to learn each other’s story and fairly early on, I knew that Kitty was adopted and that she was on a search. Who was her mother? Her father? Why was she given up for adoption? It was a silently painful and unfilled longing that would be somewhat abated by age, marriage and a child of her own, but a longing nonetheless that was never far from her, the background noise of life that just couldn’t be tuned out.
Life happened to us and we happened to life and here at the ripe old age of 63, when everything fast-forwarded so much quicker than I ever thought it would, Kitty found her mother. I would betray her by offering the details of who the woman is or the ‘why’ of all of it, but I will tell you that Kitty went to visit her. And she emailed me a short clip from a video that her husband took of the reunion. A gentle southern woman holding onto her daughter while crying, “you are mine.” Kitty’s hand caressing the cheek of her mother, the laughter that escapes from them as a rush of thoughts showed on their faces– grief for what had never been, and a gratitude for what now was.
This is what was more important than today’s word count on my damn novel. More important than my self-involved surrender to the latest love/hate writing project. This is the happy resolve to my friend’s lifetime longing, a story that demonstrates that the power of love is a stronger force in life than we ever really understand. The rest of the story? Well, that’s for Kitty to tell. And I do believe that she will write it one day and that will be the real conclusion.
To my dear friend, the one who inspired me to write, who is far from home, meeting her birth mother with hugs and kisses deep understanding and few regrets–you rock my world Kitty, and I am so happy for your reunion.