Earlier this month, I shared a post on Joan Didion’s essays titled “One runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.” One of my new blogger friends, Lori @ Donna & Diablo, mentioned in her response to my post that she planned to see Didion and was more excited about meeting her after reading the excerpts. I asked Lori if she wouldn’t mind sharing her thoughts about the meeting in a Guest Post. (I had never met a writer/author so I was looking to live the meeting-the-famous-author-moment vicariously through Lori’s post.) She graciously agreed. Lori also also mentioned that she didn’t know if it was good enough to post. I’ll let you make up your own minds. (Note to Me: If I could BANG LIKE on my own blog and keep BANG, BANG, BANGING LIKE, I would do so now…). Here’s Lori from Donna & Diablo on her meeting with Joan Didion…ENJOY!
“A slight, gently bowed woman slowly makes her way toward the center of the stage, her hands tightly clutching the arm of the young stagehand beside her. She’s impossibly fragile, “85 lbs. soaking wet,” I think to myself. She looks so frail that I’m almost afraid to breathe as she settles into the empty chair at center stage. Then Joan Didion opens her mouth and begins to read in a voice that is rich and deep, resonant with the accretions of grief she has experienced over her lifetime.
The subject of tonight’s appearance is Blue Nights, Didion’s 2011 memoir about the staggering loss of her 39-year-old Quintana Roo. For the next hour and a half, I am transfixed by the woman on the stage. I always enjoy hearing an author’s ‘back story’–why they write, how they write, what they do when they can’t write. As one who dabbles in the written word, I’m always intrigued by the journeys of others. But this is different—Didion’s grief is still too new, the pain too raw, the candor too great. In a strange sense I feel as though I am watching someone’s last confession—I’m intruding, I shouldn’t be here, this is just too personal, yet I can’t turn away.
There are glimpses of sorrow: “There’s a dark side of adoption for a child,” Didion muses (when asked by an audience member how she told her daughter that she was adopted). “You tell your child the tried and true story that they’re very special because they were chosen. Yet when someone chooses you, that means someone else didn’t.”
There are moments of chagrined confession: “My child didn’t become real to me ‘til she was in high school. She always seemed like a beautiful doll. She was already a person at three or four years old, I just couldn’t afford to see that.”
There are moments of piercing wisdom—when asked by a 33-year-old writer in the audience what advice Didion would give herself at that age, she responded simply, “Appreciate it.”
I leave the theatre emotionally drained and immensely grateful. Grateful that I’ve been allowed entrée into such a gifted individual’s realm, if only for a short time. Grateful that *I* have been given the ability, however modest, to express myself through the written word. And finally very grateful that I still have the time to appreciate ‘IT,’ all of it…..
Image Credit: Alison Perry Photography
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