Call for Subscriptions – Exponent II Spring Issue 2018
The following is the letter from the editor for the Spring 2018 issue of Exponent II, which will go to print at the end of April. If you would like to read this issue, the deadline for subscribing is April 20 . You can subscribe here. The Cover Art is by Beth Allen.
I have to remind myself to sit still and just listen. Someone is sharing an experience that for them feels so immediate and overwhelmingly specific and I want step in and wrap their uncertainty with my certainty that everything will be fine. I know this story, I have lived it, the ending is mixed but there is eventual meaning and new insight, I promise. I want to say: you are part of a human pattern that connects all of us, it is your pain but ours too. But it is not time for this. It is not the right thing to say in their now. In this moment, I feel old.
A close friend was coming over after weeks of traveling. I had missed her and was so excited to see her again. I went to the store to buy “treats” for her visit and came home with bags of candy, cupcakes, fruit, cheese, crackers, chips, soda, enough party food for many people and many days. We spread it all out on the table and could not stop laughing. It was as if someone had given a credit card to a hungry seven year old. In this moment, I am still young.
Then day to day, going from meeting to meeting, having to recall and speak to a wide range of topics from minutiae to strategy. I concentrate on what is in front of me, the meeting before is filed away, the next one not started. In this moment, I must stay completely present.
I am fifty-five years old. Squarely in middle age, moving toward older. I try to control the aging process with hair dye, refreshed wardrobes, and just released music. But at some point the jig is up. I have to consider what to do with the accumulating memory and unknown time ahead. As I turn from obvious markers to an inward timeline, I sense a definite vantage point. Often, it feels like a kind of tennis match, looking backwards and forward, at where I have come from and where I may be headed, gambling that I have enough time to make sense of it all.
I remember holding my newborn baby many years ago and seeing a vision of our family tree, now with a new box below mine. My place had shifted, no longer the culmination but a link in something bigger. I had become part of a path, a stepping stone charting one generation to the next.
I try and hold on to this image of purpose. I often say that I love my birthday because I was an awkward, self-conscious young woman and every year I care a little less about what others think. But that isn’t the full truth. I still care, and worry, and regret, and fuss over what I am not yet. The difference as I get older is that what I am “not yet” seems more attainable. I have seen myself evolve and iterate over time. Who I was has led me here, but as I turn my attention forward more than back, is who I want to be in reach? Are my expectations changing? or am I just beginning to understand my capacity? As birthdays go by, my identity continues to reveal itself, stable and mutable, backwards and forwards, old and young and present.
This Spring issue presents stories from women at all stages in their life, looking backwards and forwards to find themselves and their people, to understand their place and their path. In Shadows, an essay by Annie Wiederhold, tells the story of a woman in conversation with her current life, her 8-year-old self, and her desire to understand what it means to cast her own shadow independent of others in her life. A young woman at the beginning of her life grapples with a start that was not what she planned in A Place Of Love and Beauty. Ash Mae Hoiland and Julianna C. Hansen look to the women in their family for connection and clues on how to navigate their own experiences. Ash Mae writes about discovering her grandmother in Gleaning and Julianna finds insight from her mother’s life in A Fleeting Slice of Holiness. In her essay, Life Perspective from the Far End, Rebecca Norman begins, “I am 70 years old,” and shares the highlights of her life from her point of view. And in the prose poem, Upon the Posts of My House, Ericka Anderson, inspired by a verse in Exodus, brings the story fully forward in words that inspire us to action in today’s world.
Each essay takes us on very personal journeys through time, threading each version of ourselves with those people who challenge, inspire, and walk alongside of us as we meander from age to age. I remind myself to sit still and just listen to stories shared. To look back and depend on my own life too often is to stop growing. To not acknowledge what I have learned is to deny wisdom. To ignore the present is to miss out. In this balance we find young, middle aged and older sisters. In this span, we find each other.