we gotta start growing tomatoes

We gotta start growing tomatoes!

Not too long ago I was sitting at a café with a friend waiting for 2 other women to arrive so we can begin our meeting.

We meet once a month to share our writing. Almost every time we meet, one of us shares being so bogged down with life in the last month that she didn’t get to write. The writing is important of course but more importantly is the sense of community and support that we each gain from coming together.

That time it was my turn to say, “I didn’t write, but I came here because I wanted to share the space with you and needed your energy really badly.” The other women nod and smile and say, “We are glad you came J” it’s a great freeing feeling to be able to share my writing with them; I had never had the guts to do so. Always so afraid of judgment that my writing “is not good enough”.

I guess when my friend and I came up with the idea of forming a writing group to support each others outlet, we had imagined exactly what it has become. A safe space for women writers of color to come together to practice being open in a safe space so that the support we feel with each other can then travel with us to other venues.

In our group we have a semi-structured meeting. First we all check in about our personal lives, family, work, and school, internal struggles with our relationship to ourselves or our closest relationships. Often here in the check in we also check in about our writing for the past month. Have we written? If not, how come? And what affect has that had on our month? Often we then go into how much we need writing in our lives. Soon after we jump right in and begin reading and listening to each others written word.

At the May meeting, when it was my friends turn to check in, she said, “I feel like writing is a luxury, I feel like I shouldn’t be writing, I should be growing tomatoes to feed people, or start a clothing exchange co-op so we can cloth people!” She was referring to the current economic state of our world, and since she works with women living on the streets of downtown, her sense of urgency is heightened as she has seen the number of displaced people grow very quickly in the last few months.

I looked at her and could not help but smile. I appreciate her sense of urgency for immediate action. I often think similar thoughts. Happens often when I am at school, sitting in an the academic institution I still have not gotten used to after near 18 years, learning material that I feel is useless or unproductive to the work I really want to be a part of doing; I can get so frustrated and restless with the professors and students. I just want to scream. And I don’t. Instead I remain seated or step out for a quick walk. I especially feel a sense of urgency whenever I hang out with the youth I used work with. They fill my ears with stories and my heart quickly begins to remember what it was to do work that I loved. Now I find myself disconnected from the things I love most. Moving into a new community, once again not the one I said I would be moving to when I moved out.

The funny thing is that when my friend made the comment about tomatoes, I smiled to myself remembering the hard work I had just put into growing my second garden. Tomatoes of course, were some of the first plantitas planted. And now six weeks later, they are blooming and some even have green little tomatoes! And yes, amiga, I will certainly share the fruits of the garden.

So as I continue to make my way into the person, work, and life I want to live, the women’s writing group, my friends sense of urgency, and my garden give me the comfort I very much need to continue on my journey.

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