Keeping in Touch

keeping in touch 1

ForElisa ©2011 Renato Manzi

"I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”

keeping in touch 2Moving Around ©2011 Renato Manzi

We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were."—Joan Didion from On Keeping a Notebook

My Notebook Memory~

I remember a very shy, lonely nine-year-old girl who used to sit inside the Catholic Church during recess at the parish school she attended. She was afraid to be laughed at, afraid the other children wouldn't want to play with her, and she found comfort in the dark, musty smell of the old nave with its burning wax candles and the faint scent of incense from last Sunday's mass still in the air. As she sat in a pew by herself with her head in her hands, she could see through the cracks of her fingers, sunlight streaming through the wine-red, mustard and azure-blue stained glass windows that opened near her. She could hear, beyond the windows, the sound of children laughing at play outside.  Somehow, that multi-colored light held promise and safety. As she looked up, she saw a statue of the infant Jesus of Prague in princely robes holding the earth in his hands. "Such courage, she thought, to be a child and carry the world like that all by one's self."

There is another girl I remember, older, more sure of herself, who moved to Santa Barbara at age 21, found old friends with whom to live and made many new ones. Most significantly, she found a new identity, a name that gave her life meaning and promise. She lay in the sun on beaches that allowed an “all-over tan”, drank wine and rode horses in the surf. She acted in amateur radio shows and even on stage at a local theater where she performed in a play with able-bodied and deaf and disabled actors.  She fell in love twice, almost got married once, and then fell out of love. She lived in a college town, in a spiritual community of people young and old, and helped tend a communal garden. She decided at age 23 to return to college and found her passion in English literature, eventually to become a teacher of the same. And now in the middle of her life, she is moving forward into a new career, a new path in counseling psychology, needing all the support she can muster to reach her final goal of attaining a second advanced degree. I think she will make it.

That little nine-year-old girl, sitting in the darkened church, alone, bereft of a father and with few close friends could not imagine how life would change for her. But strangely, it is she whom I recall most vividly.  I still see her in my dreams and often when I am sad. And so I would like to say to her now, "It is going to be alright. You will grow up and be an amazing woman, kind, creative, compassionate and generous of spirit. Know that you are worthy of love." Yes, I think Joan Didion is right, "We are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not." And so I nod to her now, and she smiles back at me and waves, from a distance.

You’re Still You
I lost this post. I reposted it through Windows Livewriter and it didn’t show in my blog any longer. I wrote this in August of 2010. I decided to put it up again today. I was reading Fran’s Redondowriter’s Sacred Ordinary post and felt inspired. Thanks Fran.


  1. Dear Noelle,

    Isn't it funny how there is a vast ocean between us but you could be sitting next to me, I have just finished posting to Fran and was thinking along similar lines when I saw you had posted and the same thoughts flowing.  I love your story and I'm very grateful to be able to be a  part of it!

    Sue x

  2. Thanks Sue dear. I lost this one when I reposted it through livewriter. It was not showing up in my last year's posts any longer. I felt it was probably a sign that I should repost it today. Glad you saw it :) Noelle x

  3. A wonderful story, Noelle. One of this that remains because so deep and intimate and true. 
    It is really a story that many should read.
    Thank you,

  4. Thanks for reading, Walter and for your kind words and thoughts :)
    a Presto,

  5. Thanks so much for mentioning me, but thanks for this post. More than you will ever know. I loved hearing the story of little you, young adult you, and the you that you are now becoming. My two sons both went to UC Santa Barbara and lived in Isla Vista, which is probably the same college and same town where you reinvented yourself. Joe is 49 today and Tony is 43; how the years fly. 

    Josh Groban is just too awesome. I'm listening and tears are running down my face. You gave me a birthday present a day early.

  6. Fran,
    I am so glad dear. You deserve it! Have a birthday to beat all celebrations and say hello to your two boys for me. The world is such a small place really.

  7. It's very beautiful, Noelle -- the "story" of the nine year old child/self is one that resonates deeply with me. There's something about that age for young girls -- the intensity of it all -- thank you for an inspired and inspiring post.

  8. Thank you Elizabeth. I wonder if we all got together and told stories about our ninth year, whether the world would ever be the same from that time forward? I would love to hear some of yours.
    Noelle x

  9. Such a tender glimpse of who you've been and are becoming....


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