Lady Party: Jamie Coakley

Jamie Coakley is a multi-threat: she's a visual artist, writer, and musician. And we won't even get into how amazing her bread making skills are.

Meeting Jamie has been an act of grace for me--it can get intimidating to find other women with projects on deck in a city so vast, and have them actually become a friend. Jamie is currently working on a huge project called "Intersecting L.A.", which she says is "my latest inspiration, born out of a love for Los Angeles, and the wonder for how, a big city is a million different cities depending on which intersection you happen to find yourself at." Jamie's blog chronicling the project is here.

Jamie brought so much of herself into this interview. You can listen to her read it here (recommended!), or read through it below.

"I went to 13 different schools by 7th grade. Itʼs really hard to make friends when you move every six months and after a while, you kind of give up even trying, learning that sometimes, the pain of loneliness is somewhat less then the pain of endless goodbyes.

Lake Highlands Junior High School in Dallas, Texas was the end of the road for me and switching schools. I had grown enough into a woman to make the demand that I not be asked to change schools again, until I graduated from high school, and my mother took pity on me and agreed. We could move all around within the district, which, in fact we did, but I would not have to change schools again.

It was a bit weird. The idea of staying someplace. The first six months I kept to myself as I usually did, and then, slowly the understanding that I was, indeed, going to be here for awhile started to set in and I began to feel the weight of being alone in a sea of people, and the wonder of the possibilities of making friends, of making friends that I wouldnʼt have to immediately say goodbye to.

Her name was Jenni Boedeker. A pretty, popular girl endowed lovingly and generously by her creator at an early age in such a way to make EVERY boy in school misstep and tongue tie in her presence. She was a cheerleader, and I still felt hopelessly like the skinny, awkward, perpetual new kid and yet fate had us in mind; our friendship, our love affair was inevitable and written in the stars.

Women are a tricky thing. For me, as I am, I have always steered clear of too many women in one room or too many woman around me in general. To be honest, a lot of us of the female persuasion spend far too much time rehearsing the trivial and wasting our lives with how pretty we are on the outside, without spending near enough time making ourselves beautiful on the inside. I have never managed to find a lot of tolerance for this aspect of womanhood.

Consequently, I have had only and handful of true lady friends in my life, and Jenni has been the closest to me, consistently, for the longest time.

To me, it is A LOT like true love. There were big fights, there was time apart. There were moments I felt abandoned and betrayed, but always we found our way back to each other. Ultimately, we always ended up running to each other in times of need, in times of triumph. The love ran deep and genuine, like family. She is, was and always will be a sister to me.

We all have our crosses to bear in this life, some more than others, some more glaring than others. For Jenni, at least from the outside looking in, at least much more than I have had to experience, she has had to deal with death. Starting early, and occurring regularly throughout her life, she has faced the loss of loved ones. From boyfriends, to unborn babies, to her beloved father, she has endured and triumphed over the loss of love in ways most of us donʼt have to face until we have the wisdom of 60 years under our belts.

Her courage and resilience, despite the true injustice of her experience, are inspiring to me. But beyond inspiration, I feel something more, something almost untouchable. The light in her eyes, the exultation of her laugh, the fire in her body language that quickly says, “you donʼt want to fuck with me”, and her grace and love and acceptance of others, along with their failings, all come together to make the perfect woman for me.

The perfect woman is not without cracks, or scars, or failings. She is not 36, 26, 36. She is not 24. She is not necessarily rich wealthy, but always depth wealthy. She has a well full of compassion and energy for others. She is weak, and strong. She is everything it means to be human and then dares to transcend this form and shine that light that grows hope and serenity within everything it touches.

Jenni and I grew up together. Made mistakes together. Made mistakes apart. We took chances. Fell down. Got knocked down. Knocked ourselves down, and then picked ourselves back up. We took turns brushing each other off and came out the other side of young womanhood, each of us, so much more then we would have been without the love and strength of the other.

True love is always there, it never dies. Distance cannot contain it, nothing can extinguish it, and in your darkest hour it does not condemn, but rather, it puts a loving arm around you and offers to help you find a way out of the darkness."

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