Scenes From the City: Laurie Lambert
Writing and photography by Abby McGuire.
The day I decide to relieve myself of lugging my umbrella in by book bag is the day of indecisive drizzle and signs on the closest entrance saying, “Next door please!” I think about tying the bandanna I am wearing on my neck over my head to feel like a Hollywood actress. I decide the bandanna is tied too tight as I find myself distracted by a car decorated with triplet family bumper stickers.
I always feel strange about reading up on a woman I have never met but will meet soon; I feel like a sleuth. But, after reading Laurie Lambert’s story, I don’t need a detective’s wool hat to decide who owned this specific car. The mothering, bold, poetic Laurie Lambert opens the third entrance door to Women Writing for a Change moments later and confesses to the triplet bumper sticker, a-ha!
Laurie is petite – wearing a patterned dress flowing around her onto a pink velvet couch. More of her fingers are wearing rings than not, and as we begin to talk she gets up to remove her shoes. I understand I am seeing her in her full element, glowing with comfortable confidence.
Laurie is a teacher of a core class at Women Writing for a Change, giving us access to meet in her place of passion. She is originally a Massachusetts native, a woman of science with a PhD in medical microbiology and immunology. I stumble over the terminology – she smiles and gives me a nod.
Her parents never had the chance to pass down the Lambert name, so she kept it throughout school and into marrying her husband, whom she met in grad school. She is the one to carry on the name, and even though her triplets don’t share it, she tells the story of her daughter understanding why.
When a teacher asked why Laurie had a different last name, her daughter responded, “Because my mom didn’t need to be a different person when she got married.” I can tell that Laurie was never more proud of her daughter in her young age. I blink and smile furiously at the idea that it can be that simple to justify a woman’s action of self preservation.
Laurie went from a PhD student, wife, postdoc in St. Louis, pharmaceutical worker in Cincinnati, to being a mother to triplets at the age of 35. My mouth drops. Laurie looks away to smile; my reaction is one I am sure she has seen many times.
Laurie wanted children and although triplets were unexpected, she had no issue with being a mom full time – following her kids to school as a substitute teacher. As she mothered, she wanted the two girls and one boy to be kind, to be people of genuine nature and understanding. In the stories she tells of them, I can tell they live out these qualities in their current age of 24.
She lives on land in the country transformed into oasis complete with a homemade labyrinth behind her Morrow home. This is where she raised her kids: near the river that fuels her writing. I begin to understand Laurie to be a true renaissance woman, someone I admire for her courage to be herself, unapologetically.
Writing has given her a chance to name her fears with intense awareness and she has taken measures to pass the freedom of it all on to others.
Laurie found Women Writing for a Change in Silverton the year before her children were graduating high school in 2011. She knew she needed a community to lean on once they were gone, and now she leads the very first class she ever took 7 years later. She blooms as she tells me about the power to understand the world she found in writing. I asked her how she found a passion for writing and she explains to me it all started with her feedback on the Christmas cards she sent. “Apparently, I wrote the best Christmas Cards!” Laurie says, chuckling.
She can face the fear of writing what she knows she needs to write instead of what she wants to write. She can have a conversation with nature and further understand the world around her. Figuring out the world has always been a curiosity Laurie has fostered. Her first method of understanding was chemistry in her undergrad. The way molecular compounds formed to make something she could see helped the world make sense to her. Now, she turns to writing for the same comfort. Laurie sees her writing to be a tool that has helped her become a better listener, friend, mom, and wife.
I obviously have to ask what her family thought about this change in direction, and she hardly blinks an eye. She goes on to tell me they were hardly surprised until she started publishing. Laurie brought a copy of her chapbook, What I Can Carry, to give to me. She explained that this collection is held together by relationship and motherhood. She explains that her voice has changed over time and now she is dipping her feet into personal reflection and self in her latest collection to be published.
Writing has given her a chance to name her fears with intense awareness and she has taken measures to pass the freedom of it all on to others. Laurie’s biggest project is V-day – an event giving woman that have suffered a chance to release their pain and assert their importance in the world. I sit up straighter and want to thank her for providing the space for women that may otherwise never see a place for themselves, but I melt into her storytelling of the event and hope to be there for the next one.
The event is inspired by the Vagina Monologues and the 1 billion rising movement that poses as the number of women in their lifetime could be subject to gender based violence. She has directed two nights of a weekend in February for 7 years, for survivors to tell their stories with a audience vowed to confidentiality in honor of these woman.
Laurie strives to increase awareness and help tell stories to help make a change the world can grow from. She tells me if we understand who we are, what we want, and where we are going through whatever medium we choose, it makes us better humans for the people around us. WWf(a)C has given her a place to challenge the world and make the changes she sees to be worth fighting for.
Have a woman in mind that Abby should chat with? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, check out past Scenes from the City columns and stay tuned for more of the city's hidden gems on the first Saturday of every month.