In all of the original 100 Connections I only did one that wasn't a face to face meeting. Sara Albiach was an early believer in what I was working on with the project and I am absolutely convinced she saw what it would become before I did. My Spanish friend living in Southern California was almost always the first person to read a new post and would then comment with such thought and poise it changed the way I thought. Truly she has been a huge influence on who I have become in the journey. I knew I wanted to spend some time with her, this person who had so wholeheartedly believed in me, and so I did.
Sara and I first met on a video chat after I had driven to Spartanburg for some Connections meetings. I sat at a table in the upstate, she sat at hers in California, both of us had coffees in hand. This virtual coffee table stretched across the U.S. and our dance of conversation stretched across so many topics, took so many dives and dips. I sipped my coffee in amazement at her friendly smile, the light in her eyes and that incredible intellect.
We sat at our virtual coffee table again, though this time my seat was in Charleston at my home, and shared stories of a year that has changed so much for both of us. Sara and I both launched huge writing projects this year. We both hit the goal of writing 100 articles and it feels as though we have been on the road together the entire time. Sara is someone whose hand I have never shaken, whom I have never hugged or walked beside, and yet we have built an incredible friendship in these past months. We have both had bad connections via social media and online networking and yet, as I review my year with her, I am reminded that this is where our connection came from and I now consider her a valuable friend, not even feeling as though this only began a few months ago.
In that time, over technology, we have shared smiles and cries with each other, celebrated and consoled. When Mary Ann Lilly and I began our relationship, she was one of the first to know. When I struggled with fatigue and purpose, she was the one who spoke to me and kept me going. I have been the same for her. We sip our coffee as two writers, peers, friends, the type of thing I lamented in writing school was gone all those years ago. We may as well be in a cafe' in some Spanish town, as we talk about our passions and philosophies, about what we have learned.
Sara talks about people being put into boxes. We tend to prejudge people and decide who they are and what they are capable of so early on, dismissing the new things they are doing as mere flights of fancy. Both her and I have felt this pain of judgement, of dismissal, as though what we wanted to do fell outside of our predefined box and should thus be abandoned and left to the people meant for that type of work. People have rolled their eyes at our work, only to magically reappear later when it is successful. It has hurt us, reinforced us and shaped us.
Sara is passionate about supporting people who are brave enough to step out and chase their dreams. As someone who has received her support, I can tell you it is nothing short of miraculous. The incredible heart of this woman comes across in every word she writes, in the intentionality and the thought she puts forth always. She knows what it is to not be supported and she will not let others feel that way if she can help it. In a cynical world where we believe everyone does something for what they can get back, Sara is a luminescent reminder that we can give just from joy and love, just because we want to support someone else.
Our conversation continues its dance, it is the way we are when we talk. Two minds and hearts twirl about, sometimes fast, gliding quickly from one idea to the next, other times slowing to hover and ponder the images of our hearts. She tells me about an interview with Sophia Loren, where the actress was asked who her greatest spiritual teachers were. "The ones who hurt me the most," was her response. Sara tells me about her pain, the pain of not being supported, of being doubted in her dream, showed her how important supporting others was. From these scars emerged an even more beautiful heart, like a phoenix, that has definitely supported me.
Sara my not know, but 100 Connections may not have succeeded without her and this lesson she learned. Now she does.
Every writer, every artist, indeed most people, think about their biography from time to time. How would you be defined after you are gone? What about you will be remembered? What is your legacy? It's natural to want to know who we will be thought of as being in the future, when we are no longer there to raise our voice. I don't know what my biographer will decide to say, but I know there must be a chapter or two dedicated to my friendship with Sara.
I have often said that we only see about 40% of ourselves when we search. We were just never meant to see the whole thing. Pieces of our reflection were handed to others in the world, so they may act as mirrors and show us what we cannot see of ourselves.
I've also been very public about my struggle with depression. How, inside of me, is a voice telling me how I am not, and never will be enough. That voice is tough because it sounds like it comes from my heart and I can't see all of my being. It twists my reflection.
Sara Albiach has shown me that the mirror is twisted, shown me the writer I am and the writer I will become because her heart reflects belief, hope and support. She is one of the most beautiful souls I have encountered, an incredible friend, a brilliant writer and one of the people I am most grateful for as this year ends.