I was sitting and reading in the lounge lobby of my hotel in Madrid, Spain. It was 1969. I was 23. The corner I had found gave me an open view of the lobby, and the comings and goings of people as I sat enveloped in a red velvet chair. I was reading Jung: MEMORIES, DREAMS AND REFLECTIONS. I was in heaven as I usually was when I was reading, and I was feeling content from a busy day of fittings for my next film, THE HORSEMEN, including a fitting for my new gold nose ring. It was English tea time. I felt I had created a field around me that said No Visitors, as I adored immersing myself in reading, drinking a lovely tea, and observing life around me without any intrusions of human interaction. A woman approached my haven. Before I could react, she was instantly compelling to my artist’s eye. She had glistening thick silver snow hair, flawless translucent skin with natural rose pink cheeks and clear turquoise eyes. She was short, slightly rounded and utterly radiated warmth and electric vitality. She was wearing black, simple and elegant, highlighted by the most magnificent American Indian turquoise necklace. Of course it matched her eyes. I could not even determine her age as she was so remarkably alive. I took all of this in within an instant, as I was equally negotiating that I wanted privacy please.
With an enchanting smile and no concern for her having intruded upon my precious space, she said, “What are you reading?” “Jung” I said, not knowing why I offered her up my book. “May I sit down?”. Oh dear I thought. “Yes, of course,” I said.
Within seconds, or so it seemed, I was in love. We began a pithy and effortless communion. Scarcely moving, highly alert, we were excited in our sharing of books, philosophers and Spirit. Our conversation was as if we were one person divided into two women making a new whole. It was seamless joy. I was starved for this sort of engagement and I felt I was with my best friend and that we had been so forever. It was a warmth of being increased somehow, as she was filling my cup to overflowing.
Sanora Babb was her artist’s name. She was Sanora Wong Howe as wife and partner. Sanora was a writer, a poet, and well published. Apart from being the wife of one of the film industry’s greatest cinematographers, James Wong Howe, she had spent her life amongst the aristocracy of the world’s finest writers, philosophers, artists, and scientists. She was a Muse as well. Hemingway, Saroyan, Maxwell Perkins, Steinbeck, Diego Rivera, Frida Kieho, Einstein and more, had been her friends and compatriots, and lovers.
I was a 23 year old actress starring in a film with her husband as my Director of Photography, and she was 60, an artist intellectual with a spirit like fresh breezes. She was my inner life made manifest in a friend. I was instantly less lonely. The promise of our future friendship was secured this day. If we had cut our fingers and mixed our blood speaking some childish poem of eternal loyalty it would not have been strange.
We both lived in Los Angeles. As the years progressed she deeply understood who I was in so many dimensions unknown by others, and I understood her. We had no age difference. We were just free, unfettered, and utterly outspoken and vulnerable. I gave her the key to my heart with abandon, and she gave me her heart with no frills.
She remained a golden thread shining in the fabric of this life of mine. True Wealth.
She passed at 99.
I was close with her in her dying process as she slowly let go of this world. In great spiritual intimacy, I ministered her into her next adventure, and she blessed me into the remaining chapters of my life. She is with me now, and I know she heartily approves of my choices and is glad. Fiercely however, she would be wanting more of me to be expressing creatively. We are both Artists still, passionate, loving and free .
Some of her amazing books:
An Owl on Every Post
The Lost Traveler
Whose Names are Unknown