This year, I began a new ritual. I read Joan Didion’s book of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem and I began keeping a notebook. The idea, she wrote, was that one uninspiring morning, we will “simply open [our] notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there.”
I did so as part of the experiment of taking myself more seriously, in general and as a potential writer. I dreamt up and proposed a master’s project of nonfiction work for myself, applied for funding to travel for research, a library card, renewed a lease for the first time, mixed cream and sugar into my dark-roast coffee religiously each morning, and took up a skincare routine.
I left behind many of the ideologies and rituals I used to strain against, the prescriptions for the kinds of things a young woman’s life should necessarily contain. I read tirelessly about Athena and Artemis and La Loba, La Huesera and bought books like When God Was a Woman. I started thinking a lot about what comes next, about what women fill their lives with when the straining begins or when the straining has, for the moment, passed.
When we have quietly, solemnly extinguished the burden of some set of expectations, when we have grieved for what we are not, and when we rebirth ourselves according to our own image, we carve out new spaces for ourselves, using new rituals to mark them, to strengthen ourselves against the new winds, and—as Didion said—for passage back to who we used to be.
I have wanted to create a printed space for work by women for some time, but the scribblings in my notebook revealed what I wanted to give women a space to explore: rituals, especially those that we create for ourselves, to take care of ourselves, and to claim space for ourselves and for each other. One morning in New Mexico, successfully funded for my master’s project research and somehow with an entire canyon to myself at Tent Rocks National Monument, I looked up at the rising moon in the cold, bright sky and knew: this would be Moonrise.
Whether Moonrise will go to print again, I do not know. I am hopeful for the chance. And I am grateful to the women who trusted my hands to carve out this space for their work, and to these women and to all who may be reading this letter, I say thank you.
Written by Missy J. Kennedy.