All photos by Bella Cirovic, whose generosity feels completely other-worldly to me.
Arriving early, waiting for dinner.
When you live far from people you work with and people you love, being together feels like waking up into a dream that keeps on dreaming you even after daylight hits its screen. Disbelief is your constant companion as you shake off the thoughts that this is all too good to be true.
It IS true, you tell yourself. You are here, right now, together. You found one another—in the great sea of the world, you recognized some kindred light in water or in sky and you found a way to meet. And this is your reward: these soothing souls who help you decide what to wear, who drop into your afternoon routine with the little girls, who help you carry the load and host and take pictures that make you look beautiful, who drive and ride for hours to share a table and a drink and receive your stories as a gift.
I'm not sure there's any better medicine for the soul than stories and togetherness. Gatherings like these are physical manifestations of the truth that runs like a current, always, beneath our feet: no matter how alone we feel, no matter how particular and specific the details of our struggles and sorrows, the minute one person shares her story all the separateness falls away and we remember that our stories touch places in the stories of others. They run parallel, they ring out in the same key, they chart a way through the common frontier that is the human experience.
We are not alone, this we know whenever stories and togetherness are present. It all matters, we all count, and as someone I know would say, it's beautiful.
To hear some of the stories from the evening, check out this podcast interview with Jolie. (You can now subscribe in iTunes.) My deepest gratitude and thanks go out to all the dear ones who came from near and far to join us. The whole evening was a dream come true, and it wouldn't have been the same without you.
Jolie's book, Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery, is available for a limited time.