Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rebecca Walker Spins the Globe

Photo via Rebecca Walker

When I was in college, I read Rebecca Walker's To Be Real and became a feminist. It's not much of a story, I know, but it's what happened. It was the first time I came across a text that put in words – so directly – what I was feeling and experiencing. For years later I searched for earlier experiences and, of course, I could point to strong women who influenced my ideas of womanhood and various men who challenged my character and questioned my value. But, really, when I am really honest with myself, the moment when things really clicked for me were those I hours I spent rocking on a chair at the front porch of my favorite coffeehouse, reading that book, feeling so connected to a woman whose story was nothing like mine.

"To Be Real" is also always the Feminism 101 book that I recommend. It's young and honest and somewhat disjointed, a perfect representation of a pluralist movement that welcomed me so warmly. Rebecca Walker is still the woman that I feel speaks for me. I am so happy when she does. I especially recommend her book Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After A Lifetime of Ambivalence. It didn't change my mind about wanting to be a parent but it was the most honest text I've ever read on the subject. I'm guessing you might like it, too.

I am sharing all this so that you know how important this woman and her work have been in my life. So that you can imagine the volume of screaming that filled our house when last spring Rebecca tweeted that she was going to Bulgaria on assignment and needed help planning her trip. What followed was a whirlwind of tweets and emails that resulted in a beautiful travelogue that was published in March/April 2011 issues of AFAR Magazine. I read the story shortly after it came out and was in complete and total disbelief:
On my last evening in Sozopol, after the very chic but down-to-earth woman who ran the hotel brought me Greek salad and fettuccini with olive oil and butter for my dinner, I thought about how the whole of it, every single season of my trip, was the result of a unique magic: human beings linked miraculously through a virtual web. The world felt smaller, but bigger too. I could not speak the language in Bulgaria, but I did not feel like a stranger. The country was distinct, but my sense, sitting on the terrace overlooking the sea, was that it was but one room in a vast, familiar mansion. I could have been blinded by the rooms of many colors in this gigantic house of humanity, but instead, I trusted my heart and my Twitter feed, and found my way.

I was re-reading the story earlier today and really wanted to share it as a reminder of why we are all here... writing and blogging and tweeting and {over}sharing. Why do we keep doing it?!

We do it because sometimes we are heard.


  1. What a wonderful story! Life does work in strange and amazing ways sometimes.

    1. I know, right!
      A few years back when I lived in NYC I wrote an email to my favorite illustrator and he and his wife invited me over to their home where I spent a day hanging out with them and watching them work!

      I love the internet!

      Thank you for your note!

  2. Lovely story, Petya! I loved reading Rebecca's impressions of Bulgaria. I too have never met you but I feel like we are friends. And for that I have your blog to thank! PS My to go list for friends visiting Sofia is very similar to yours. I also add "try pechena tikva if in season".

    1. I just realized that actually, we've never met. It's kind of hard to believe, isn't it?!

  3. Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one! It's on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Great choice of colors! agen bola