Happy International Women’s Day

Today the world celebrates women- all people who identify as women. I invite you to celebrate too.

I invite you to celebrate all that women do- whether you identify as a woman or not. All that women make happen. All of who women are. The choices we want to make. How we live our lives. Today we recognize that women are still underpaid in comparison with men and how those salaries also walk along lines of race and ethnicity as do basic rights. Today we recognize that women have advanced agriculture. Today we recognize the fight women make for rights. Today we recognize the work women have done on behalf of our planet. Today we recognize the fight to not objectify, eroticize, dumb-down, harass, blame, shame, or push against the strength of women. Today we recognize men and people of other genders who fully support women and denounce all violence against us. Today we recognize all that women do in our large world and in homes and families. Today we celebrate women and all women are.

Back in the mid-nineties I was in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica and celebrated International Women’s Day at a big festival on one of the plazas there in downtown San Jose. I hadn’t been in the country long, in fact our group was still in training and hadn’t been sent off to our host communities yet. I had gone off to the festival myself as none of the other volunteers wanted to go. It was one of the best things I did. I ended up making friends right there amidst the poetry and music. I had begun to talk to a couple of women there about the festival. After a while, they were like, “our friend is picking us up to go have a drink, want to come?”

There is something about being young and in another country that makes you daring and so ready for life. I followed them, practically jogging through the small crowd of people, all the way to their friend who was waiting for them in her car.

When we got there, the friend was like, “uh, who is this gringa?”

I introduced myself and one of the other women said they had met me and invited me to come along. “Well, come on then,” she said.

I looked around, wondering if I should get in the car with this random person and these other two random women I had met. I hadn’t even been in the country for two months and here I was possibly being kidnapped and I was walking right into it. And maybe it wasn’t smart. Or maybe we’re too cautious these days, so much so we can’t meet new people who end up being amazing. I want that adventure in my life.

From talking with the two women I met, I trusted them- enough at least, or so I thought. We had been talking about women’s rights in Costa Rica, about sexual orientation, about feminism, about women’s empowerment. I really liked those women. They were my age. They were funny. And I think they were just as amused by me as I was by them. So, of course I jumped in the car with them and away we went.

The woman who was driving, drove us to her house where we sat in her kitchen for the rest of that afternoon and into the evening drinking coffee and then eating together. We shared a few shots of guaro (the Costa Rican liquor) right out of the bottle and talked and talked and talked until I had to head out to take the last bus back to Santa Ana where I was staying with a family while I was in training. Not to even mention, I had a long day of classes and training the next day.

This was a kind of companionship with women that I love still today, one that is of kitchen table culture, of secrets and laughter, of friendship and joy, shared because we were women, because we wondered about each other, because we allowed it to happen. And I will never forget it. I ended up knowing two of those women for a very long time. That day was so fun and special that I have never not celebrated International Women’s Day, even if it’s a small celebration.

So, I invite you to write today about a magical encounter you have had with a woman or women. You can be of any gender to do this, simply write about a time you had a magical time with a woman. Why was it magical? Show us. Give us details. Who was she or them? Who were you with her or them?

Celebrate the women you know today. Celebrate all people who identify as women. Celebrate all women all around the world. We need celebrating and lifting up.

Thank you for reading and writing and celebrating. Happy International Women’s Day!

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Liza Wolff-Francis

Published by lizawolfffrancis

Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College who is proud to have served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and a member of the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. She has an ekphrastic poem posted in Austin’s Blanton Art Museum by El Anatsui’s sculpture “Seepage” and her work has most recently appeared in Steam Ticket, eMerge, Minute Magazine, Weaving the Terrain: 100 Word Southwestern Poems, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, Poetic Routes, Poetry Pacific, Edge, and on various blogs. She has a chapbook out called Language of Crossing (2015, Swimming with Elephant Publications), which is a collection of poems about the Mexico- U.S. border. She loves breakfast food, popcorn and dark chocolate.

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