When I received an email this week from my friend Cynthia, I could not help remembering and laughing at some of the times we shared during the 1970s and 1980s when we were dedicated and determined volunteers working for the Women Artists Movement.
Today I can laugh at a few things I would never have expected to even flicker a half-smile at while they were happening. Now I can see the humor and appreciate how women tackled tasks we were little prepared for as a part of our determination to see a change for women.
Thinking of Cynthia I, immediately thought of our trip to Nairobi in 1985—something I, at the time, thought would live forever in my mind as a personal nightmare.
We formed an organization and went to Africa to the United Nations Conference on Women carrying an exhibit of art works by U.S. women artists. To say it was challenging is definitely minimizing the whole thing.
We met a wide and diverse spectrum of women who were attending the meetings and we learned that we all had the same concerns which united us across our many different life styles and cultural situations. Those are the challenges and achievements that are written about and recorded in the history books.
Rarely do you get the back stories of the unexpected personal challenges. For example, Nairobi was short on hotel rooms to accommodate the overwhelming attendance for the conference. Our small group was turned out of our two rooms in a modern hotel when an official delegation arrived and pre-empted us. We were lucky to relocate to an obscure motel on the outskirts of the city and did not turn a hair when we found out the rooms usually rented by-the-hour in this establishment. We stayed there for 10 days.
In 1998, I told the story as a one-woman show for Washington Storytellers Theater. I called it "Ten Thousand Miles from Home." A couple of years ago I told this video excerpt as part an OLIO produced by Better Said Than Done. Particularly glad that my husband Jim was there because even though he did not make the trip to Africa he was important to my side of the story.