I've written about meeting Grace Paley before, about her writing and the impact her voice has had on mine, and so now, years later, years after her death, I'm trying to find new words to articulate what meeting her meant to me.
It's more than her presence in the front row of our conference presentation, or her tiny hand touching mine, or how, in her Keynote speech, her voice was so simple and so clear that I immediately teared up and jotted down one of the first things she said: "There is no such thing as having a spiritual life without having and interest in life."
During the Q&A one of my professors that was attending the conference asked Grace what advise she had for someone who wanted to be a writer and then looked over towards me, and Grace answered the best answer I didn't expect: one must be very lucky. Of course, later that night she reinforced, one also makes their own luck just by participating in life, and so I keep that urge to participate and be lucky with me today.
When I handed her my commonplace book to sign she made a few quick comments about the paper my friend Alicia and I presented, and about my notebook and her own notebooks, and then she jotted a note about the weekend on the page. After she gave it back to my shaky, excited hand, she asked I return it to her for just one more thought and she added the last line. I could have used a couple more days, too.