I have always wondered why people like Hemingway fled to Europe, why writers end up in bare rooms by the seaside in Greece. I think I now understand their flight: they had to find a place where the truth was safe. Truth could be put on the page without immediate threat. They had found a lie-free spot to work on their writing.
I recently wrote about about race and went into shock when some of my oldest friends on Earth read it and said, “I don’t want anyone to think you slept with a black man” or “I gave you permission to use that passage but I want it removed even though the film has been sold” or, worse yet, not one word of humor or praise or pride over my writing.
This of course has led me to contemplate the nature of friendship. Again. I have out grown them. They do not understand how the writer’s mind processes reality. They are provincial. They gossip and no one knows what vague innuendo and bizarre untruths swirl around their gatherings. They love Trump. They liked Zimmerman and refused to acknowledge he murdered a young man. Democrats lay low. This is Texas. I must leave them and their piles of guns behind.
I am not so much disappointed as disillusioned by the rules and regulations others put on friendship. Amongst the group, most of the marriages are long dead. Mine keeps ticking and at the 20-year mark, I will renew my vows on a beach in a long flowing gown on the other side of the world. At 10 years, he and I recommitted on the side of a mountain over the Zambesi in Africa. Our wedding dinner was on an island in mid-river glowing with oil lamps. He was a man my friends told me not to marry, he was too old, it wouldn’t last. He is the best thing that ever happened to me.
I choose my talent over everyone but my husband and my God. I will be gossiped about, called names, and sworn at by those “friends” that don’t think I’m doing it right. They might as well be yelling down a hole for all I care.
I am a wife. I am a writer. Racism is particularly abhorrent to me and I fight the fight my Mother fought over 60 years ago. I am what I want to be, I am a person I am proud of. I am making a Hollywood film of the book, a comedic portrait of the hilarious differences and similarities between whites and blacks, all wrapped in a happy ending. I am so proud of the work, the sensibility, the huge talent it has attracted for the film. I wrote it for my Mother. I loved her spirit and her ideas. I will cry the day it opens because she will not be able to watch it.
I say to those women, those “friends” of mine, think about what you do. Think about who you hurt. Think about the course of your own life and leave mine alone. Stop ganging up on people, stop hating other women. Stop being afraid of every shade of skin darker than your own. Stop making assumptions about the motivations of others. No one died and left you Queens. Connect yourself to the world and not your tiny circle of gossip. Act like an adult citizen of the world which, if you haven’t noticed, seems to be aflame.
You should have been teaching a child to read in the time you spent whispering about me. I am ashamed of you.