a one-sided conversation with donald miller who is not my friend.

August 9, 2010

i love anne lamott. i don’t usually call her anne; instead i am taken to saying annie lamott. not because i am a kookoo stalker fan who thinks i know her. i just really love the name annie. it’s one of those names – the ones that inspire comfort, conjure up images of childhood friendships, saturday sleepovers, the smell of suntan lotion, walking along quiet suburban streets with friends in a distant summer. such names are soft on the breath, round in the mouth. maggie is another one, and sara, and kate, a little bit. i love annie liebowitz. her work, and her name. i can imagine imogen cunningham as a cate, like that, with a C.

so there is the name. annie. i saw annie lamott speak a few years back with elizabeth gilbert at ucla’s royce hall, and they were sweet together, having never met. different women, very different writers, based in different faiths, or perhaps on different paths towards faith, shared or otherwise. there were so many women there, and hoards of them – including a few of my friends – lined up with armloads of books to have them signed, but i didn’t.

i am a poor star-gazer. i don’t want just a handful of seconds to deliver what for me would be a few well-rehearsed lines, or my very special deer-in-the-headlights brand of shyness, or worse yet, an exchange with someone i find dreamy who might not make eye contact with me. so i waited for my friends outside in a favorite sweater under a spring sky on a beautiful los angeles night, and i saw some celebrities and ran in to a new friend and saw annie lamott signing books and thought, wow, sharing coffee at a table somewhere cozy and light-filled with that woman, well, that would be some conversation. and then i thought, i am okay loving her work up close/in my bed/on my couch/in tears/in laughter, and loving annie lamott, the word weaver, at a distance. it’s not a rush, but it is intimate. she is just one of those writers.

a friend of mine became a fan of annie (when fans still existed. why are fans no longer de rigueur these days? why can we only like someone or something? it seems much too mild a sentiment for the cyber orgy that is facebook), and i loved that – just saying, i like you and your work so much – and so i became a fan, also. but that was really that. i have grace, eventually on my nightstand, but it has been a sporadic journey for me, entering that book, and so i have been love-bombing other books, other authors. i admit, i can be fickle that way. my annie love has been at a low. until this week.

this week, perhaps because of my annie lamott fan-ship, i had a little tag on my facebook page suggesting i visit donald miller.  it must have been because i like AL and AL likes donald miller. i really don’t need or want any more facebook pals, but knowing nothing about this donald miller, and the fact that AL does, i clicked to visit him. his facebook was okay but a bit too business-facebook-page for me, and so i clicked around a bit and somehow ended up on donald miller’s blog. i scrolled through a few posts, and felt myself smile. i also felt the hair on the back of my neck go a little electric. i read, and was comfortable and compelled and joyful immediately and all at once. here was someone – a man, a lovely, inquisitive man – asking questions, exploring faith, loving his dog (who is a lucy like my dog is a lucy), allowing prose, however time-locked, to flow from him to the world around him. it is brave. and simple. no offense annie, but i want to have coffee with donald miller now.

but i jump ahead of myself. so i find the blog, this donald miller’s blog, and i am warmed and terribly curious and i read a bit, and i peruse google to find the skinny on his writings, his books, his bent, the depth of his religious faith. is it so deep that a conversation with this man would exist on an immediate angle? the kind of angle where one’s words and stance keep sliding off because there is no room for a perspective that is counter-intuitive to his? can someone who writes a book titled Blue Like Jazz have some kind of religious myopia or is there allowance for beliefs that are based in other faiths? i think, until i read the book, and then maybe another, i won’t know.

but i do know i welcome this conversation, and another, and another. i am not a traditionally religious or god-fearing person, but i believe wholly and without sway in the rhythm of the universe, its finite balance(s), our connection to all things living, energy-based, breathing, mysterious. is that god? maybe. throw in the largest sprinkle of kindness and calming, deep breaths, and it makes sense to me, this god.

for there is magic. and history. and stars aligned and tidal pulls and moondust and stardust and other pulls that exist for no reason except the fact that they exist. why do we notice one, and not the other? why does one touch of a hand do nothing when the touch of another hand can make our hearts race and our breath catch? what is it to recognize someone we’ve never seen before? the deep recognition of shared experience – however impossible – the thing that whispers in your ear “i see you. i get you. i come from the same place as you.” my first experience of so glaring a duality was my immediate connection to signe – the person who has lived in my heart, the very center of it, since we met almost thirty years ago as teenagers in central holland. it was what i imagine it would feel like to meet a sister you’ve never known you had, so visceral was the bond. it made no sense whatsoever, and compelled deeply, in an instant. she was the light version of me, or i was the dark version of her, and fairy dust was simply swirling around us.

i am lucky in this life. i have people surrounding me up close and from different continents that love me without condition. my body moves and carries the same lines it did when i was a younger soul and lighter in years. my mind searches and questions and wonders with ferocity. my heart pounds in joy and in sadness and in lust and in empathy (so much in empathy it can shadow all else) and the sheer force of all that is so infinitely gorgeous and tragic and difficult and joy-producing every day of this lifetime. my face can still make the open man catch his breath, look away from me, and look back again. i humor myself to wonder and hope that it is that empathy and soulfulness that pours from my eyes, rather than their green or the slice of a cheekbone. this makes sense, for physical beauty wains, i believe, in the exact moments a different beauty takes over. the beauty that is about experience, emotional intelligence, spirituality, a more seasoned knowing. young beauty is breath taking; older beauty is sublime, informed, produces breath. oh to be a woman in the world who can inspire questions, create breath, and yes, even breathlessness.

so donald miller, you who questions and believes and mentors and put thoughts in to words, words that even your lucy can claim, when will you write about this side of spirituality? the spirituality of relationship. of aging. of grace and knowledge. of the passage of time. perhaps you are too young. or perhaps you already have. if i am so lucky to find that is the case, i will read your words, and if they resonate, i may read them again, and i will wait to see how magical this world really can be. for though you may not know it, i have taken a seat before, and will do it again, in the light-filled coffee bar, with hot milk and coffee in a perfect porcelain cup, and a book, or a notepad, and the pale bend of my neck curving over either, waiting for a face to walk through the door. the face of the man who has some answers but still asks the questions all at the same time. the questions i imagine annie still asks, ones even she may not yet be able to answer.


5 Responses to “a one-sided conversation with donald miller who is not my friend.”

  1. Barry & Sue Says:

    When are you going to write a novel? We are wanting to read it soon. Barry

    • fortydeluxe Says:

      barry i never know when to take you seriously! so lets put all that aside and focus instead on when we are having dinner at enrique’s! tell sue i miss her and to behave herself. xoxo

  2. Germaine Says:

    Hi there… love your eloquence..guess what? I am reading Blue Like Jazz.. it’s one of 3 books I am in the process of reading.. Kind of ironic. Will I see you today? Monday. Hope so.. with love,

  3. June Says:

    Donald – don’t know him (yet). Annie – love her and am reading Hard Laughter right now (funny). Kerri – a writer of equally compelling and inspiring prose – most definitely! Someday you’ll be paid for your insights and beautiful musings and we’ll be signing up as Fans on your Facebook page!


  4. gail simmons Says:

    LOVE this one dear KL! I am a fan already!!!
    Love you,

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