One, Two Step - Ciara

I'm back from a fantastic experience in Santa Barbara. Not only was The Women of Color Conference amazing, not only were the students engaged and inspiring, and not only were my fellow performers brilliant, but I saw my old friends, Marisela Marquez, Monica Lopez, and Aaron Jones

It is a fascinating thing to see loved ones from former times, reflecting back not only the time missed, but the image of what they hold in the sharpest focus: who you were then. I smoked Marlboro Reds in college, among other things, sported short hair and a revolving cast of massive overalls. Poking out from beneath the frayed ends, my legs emerged in striped tights and Doc Martens. My hair was toasted at the ends from bleach and dye and bleach and dye. I was a fired up angry person then, putting the puzzle pieces together as interlocking oppressions and identities showed themselves to be an insurmountable cultural mafia. I was furious about how the things I learned in Hebrew school were hooking up with women's studies rape statistics, how black studies civil rights shortfall were still hard at work in white America and how class struggle was still an unspeakable language. The matrix of injustice loomed in the forefront of my brain and I railed against it, my violet and green hair all burned up like my heart. I must have been so annoying, such an insufferable twit. And I'm sorry to all those customers I was mean to at the cafe. You didn't deserve it. I didn't have any kind of tools to express rage in productive ways, to channel my anger into a hikable path. I had no solutions, just lists of problems and black market pharmaceutical ecstasy on lucky saturday nights. But this past weekend, standing up there in Campbell Hall, I saw all those young women in the sea of blue seats and I remembered how it felt, to be eighteen sitting in the dark with four hundred people, the visceral desire welling up in me to find a way to write my story. Any story, really. And twenty years later, a little bit at a time, that's what I actually do. 

I get to do it partly because those friends told me I could. And over the years, i've been so fortunate to continue finding people who tell me I can. And they're right. It's funny because folks talk to me about this marathon undertaking and they often say the very things I have said:

I can't even run a mile.

Yes you can.
You can.

Maybe today you can't. Maybe it's a struggle. But you can. I mean, if you want to. And if you don't want to, well, dang, that's fine too. But you can. Just put one foot in front of the other. Run ten paces. Run ten more paces. Cut a deal with yourself to run forty. See how that feels. Then Re-cut another deal. Make yourself a mantra. Do your thing. 

Write one chapter. Write another. Edit.  And sometimes soon, I'll have a book. I'm starting chapter five this weekend. 

Sara Elise


  1. Surviving our (younger) youth and being able to reflect and learn from it is really a gift. It's kind of like getting to a great view during a run where you can look back and appreciate what it took to get to this spot. (That was an awkward way to say that, but I'll leave the editing to you.) Well done.

  2. You were neither annoying nor an "insufferable twit."

    Keep writing...

    - Noah