Hello, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Savannah and I grew up to crickets louder than cars outside my window, the reggeatón at birthday parties hosted by Mexican families my mom knew that left my ears deafly ringing, the St. Olaf choir throwing alleluias to the heavens through my grandma’s Bose speaker at Christmastime, my dad picking out Aerosmith melodies on his guitar come evening, eyes closed, leaning back.
When I was mulling over what to write for this piece, there were so many strands of my life here that I wanted to talk about. So, instead of choosing one, I’ve woven them into their own soundscape. Take a listen:
Three absolutely knock-your-socks-off badass sparkplug Latina women whom I work with have gathered for a meeting. We laugh unrestrainedly and yell and poke at one another good-naturedly throughout, ostensibly here to launch a Spanish-language service at St. Mary’s, bound by this life-giving, connecting time. Sometimes one woman’s 18-month-old granddaughter cries or laughs or smiles and we all go goo goo eyes and baby talk to her. They’re teaching me, in their unwavering love for one another, commitment to this group and to our mission, that facilitation means to interact lightly and gently with time, to take bachata breaks, to begin each meeting with a besito and end with an “te quiero mucho, gracias por compartir tu energía con nosotras.” We love you, thank you for sharing your energy with us.
A housemate-friend and I sit in front of a desk with sedate four o’clock sunlight spilled across it. I can hear my heart thuh-thump in my chest, in my ear drums, in the shame stuck to my throat. He looks me in the eye while I tell him about a secret racist thought that had slithered into my mind that morning biking to work, how nasty it made me feel, how much my heart shook to admit that it had come from me. I can hear the relief as it whooshes into my body, relief from trying to carry my brokenness by myself, relief from feeling that I’m the only one and that the darkness within me makes me unloveable. I realize then just how much I am needing relationship to heal away my racism.
I can hear the far-off trundle and screech of the South-bound red line come to take me home. I type, then erase, then type a message to my housemates on our group text, asking that they hold me in their thoughts. I’ve just been on a strangely traumatic date. A reply buzzes my pocket from my housemate who becomes, in that moment, my friend first. When I get home, she comes down to meet me. With her softly-guiding voice and enveloping empathy, my whimpers turn to laughter. We sprawl on the 2am couch, hugging our warmth to ourselves and grabbing our Woman Power back from a world too quick to plunder us.
The pulse of these sounds is drawing me into new rhythms of being, rhythms focused much more on connection with others, myself, and my own sense of purpose than organizing thoughts in a linear fashion around deadlines (i.e. studying philosophy). Their volume stretches me to try new ways of being in relationship that center trust and presence … and (loving) yelling. Their pitch is helping me find a new kind of alive focused less on a sense of my own competence, and more on my own belovedness, as impossible as that sounds. And, like the purr of a cat, I feel this soundscape start to help me heal. And find hope.