It has something to do with Directional signs
Armed with a permit since last summer, it wasn’t until two Sundays ago that I had my first driving lesson. My hands gripped the steering wheel, and I sat, staring intently at the traffic signs, the STOP, the green, the stray walking bodies, the heavy impending metal moving objects lunging toward me, my boots too thick beneath my feet, my heart pounding -I was steering the steering wheel.
Still, I had a body next to me, guiding me along the way. Actually pressing the breaks when I’d forget. A voice, grunt, snap, point, call, telling me to take the next turn, telling me when.
When someone wants to ask me, what is the Saturn Return, I will think of this driving lesson and ask: how do you know which way to go, what to do next, where to turn at a crossroads?
Saturn was like the tangible objects set before me. The driving lesson is the Return. How to navigate this path, what rules to follow, which way to go, the instructor, is Spirit. There is no way to survive the Saturn Return without the navigation of Spirit.
* * *
The Sunday after, this past weekend, I went to the Our Elements Organization conference to collect stories on Her Saturn Returns. The conference was the 4th annual LGBTQ Women of Color Conference, themed, Flowing Further.
Her Saturn Returns arrived to Phili by way of car. Armed with documentarians and photographers: Archivist, Erica Williamson; oral historian, storyteller, documentation, and image maker LadiSasha Jones; photographer, Joi Sanchez and photo-journalist, Bianca Henriquez.
A formal thank you is still in order, as we rocked the conference and captured the stories of 19 different women.
We arrived on Friday night, late for the Playhouse play party run by Ignacio Rivera, but met the Director Adrienne Nicole Williams who gave me a box of programs to stuff with my flyers for the next day interview collection. It took us no time at all to place the inserts inside, having a sneak peak at what was in store for the rest of the day. That night, we stumbled to our Airbnb rental and cozy’d to an early morning where, after Ignacio’s keynote address, during the intergenerational breakfast, we were asked to come to address the ballroom of women as a ‘traveling workshop’. We invited the women to come to us, if having turned 30, or turned 60. “Share with us your process, as women of color, as LGBTQ women, how have you weathered the past few years, what are your places of guidance. See us in the back, and share your story.”
The women swooned at the concept of storytelling. Many signed up. Others fell into the recorders and began to tell us the mysteries of their lives.
It was an overwhelming day, as after my first few, interviews, I had to take a moment and hold myself, crying heaving, LadiSasha took over for me, as I realized interviewing women entering inside of their Saturn, currently experiencing the pain of loss, of death, of loneliness, of what seems to them like impossibility, these women in the center of intense transition, that this is a painful process. Us women cried together. We held hands while they spoke. It was in the stream of their tears, the tears that I gave them permission to not allow to well up in their eye beds, but to fall to their cheeks, as I wiped them, that made me realize this project is real.
An example is one woman that I met who will be a friend to me forever. I found her selling art as a vendor in the corner of the ballroom. Her hand-crafted pens and earrings were contoured in angular shapes, and her hair stood high above the half-inched gauged ear-wholes that hung metallic inceptions of a triceratops’ ridged skull. And although she was yet to enter her Saturn, she still wanted to enter the interview experience, curious about this table of women with equipment and shaven heads, entering the minds of the conference goers and bringing them to tears. I believe that she had a story to tell.
Hers was the longest. And all of us hovered around her story of movement from New Orleans to Phili, her family as anchor or leverage, her insistence on community, but solitary lifestyle, creating shapes from discarded objects. Finding the colors and patterns inside the flesh of wood. She eventually bought us all to her art studio where plants grew and wood dried. Yesterday, her rooster at the Studio Museum made its x-acto knife feathers caw at the onlookers who tried their hardest to decide if they would dare to touch. Would they bleed?
The day after the conference, was the final day for the Call. I received poetry and essays from friends and strangers all whom thanked me for the opportunity to write, consider, and share their story. I also received letters in my inbox from women who decided, alas, they would not submit, but the journey was for them larger than they could have imagined, and they were grateful. These same conversations I had in my head with close friends who had prepared their submissions that never came. For me, their journey is so important, and I hope I have contributed to their writing, have given them reason to lift their pen, to save a document on their computers, to ask their mother a question.
Because that is what it is about, still, this direction.
If I am a catalyst for your writing, then, I too, claim a piece of your spirit. And you, writing your stories, have a piece of mine. It is in this way that we are connected.
My Saturn gives me age, time descending, projects and commitments. My spirit gives me Saturday mornings, and a waking desire to construct a sentence, if even to write someone I love a letter.
‘Whoa’ is this Saturn Return; I am yielding.
My direction is in the writing. This weekend and the next and the next, until I turn 30, I will transcribe stories, read journeys, and thank those who have answered my call.
P.S. Since Yield to Call is formally represented as a measure of the yield of a bond if you were to hold it until the call date, I find this possibility of financing, of investing and procuring funds as an interesting measurement to the Saturn. Money can be considered as well as traffic signs, if the analogy is in investing… knowing when to move forward, to sell, to buy, etc.