That's my cousin (who is really my sister) and me at a Simon & Garfunkel concert in Central Park in the eighties. If I recall, I'd recently graduated with my masters in journalism and had just begun working as a reporter at LIFE magazine. My cousin, four years younger, was still in college. Today she's a government lawyer representing students with special needs, while I sit here, alone in my house, wrestling with getting down a new opening chapter for the book I'm writing for a woman with her fist perpetually in the air, a woman we need more than ever right now. I'm having a crisis of confidence. I don't know if what I'm writing is any good. I just can't tell.
Today, I'm falling back on advice from Anne Lamott's writing manifesto Bird by Bird, in which she offers guidance like this:
Our July Fourth was quiet this year. We entertained my 94-year-old aunt and her daughter, not blood relatives, but still family. Our kids had lively engagements all over the map, but we just took it slow. My aunt was my mother's best friend, one of them, and she reflected that all her contemporaries are gone now. She is in marvelous shape, mind crystal clear, walks every day, looks wonderful. She walks more strongly than I do if you want to know the truth. And my husband thinks she's one of the most elegant women he's ever seen. She won the genetic jackpot, but she's lonely. I'm glad we spent the day with her and into the evening, watching fireworks together on TV. She calls me her other daughter.