Two years went by since I wrote these words as the forward of our book. I think that it describes the first spark of this whole project very well.

“It’s April, 2006. Many years have passed since Chabella –her own code for Isabel– wrote those words from a pressure of the soul, exactly fourteen years ago. Now that I see it on paper, fourteen is Isabel’s number. She was born on September 14. It’s also been many years since I first saw her, she was the mother of my brother’s girlfriend –fourteen years ago as well, I think, and around 9 since I started working with her.

Our first meeting was totally one-sided. I was almost dead with a bellyful of burgeoning life –pregnant with my own Isabel, who today bears the name of the fairy godmother who saved her life, along with her mother’s.

At that meeting, Isabel was wearing a long white linen tunic fastened up top with three buttons, lending a modern touch to her otherwise classic look. Beneath the coat she wore white close-fitting pants. Her hair was loose. I don’t remember what color it was now –light brown, or blond maybe– we’ve been through so many colors, Isabel and I, over the years.

Isabel shook me, shoved me, shocked me back to life. Little by little, step by step, I steadily began to get myself back together from the very core of my being.

Since we set out together down this road –me holding Isabel’s hand at first, then walking together like the inseparable friends we are– all kinds of things have happened in our lives.

The main thing for me was that I was able to have the baby I wanted so much. Meantime, I married the child’s father, and separated from him a year later in the way I least expected, but which was an inevitable part in my destiny. The episode left me high and dry. I ended up sleeping in a room in my parents’ house with my three small children. I spent a year and a half in this homeless situation until I won back my house, where I now live happily with my three children. Meanwhile I went from one work experience to another, always drawing on my experience as an architect.

But, really, the driving force behind everything I did was my daily walk through life with my friend and soul mate, Isabel. It isn’t every day you find a soul mate in a girlfriend. According to popular myth, that’s what happens between men and women, who are supposed to form inseparable couples for the rest of eternity. But I can assure you that finding a soul mate in a friend, whatever sex, is truly on another level. As soul mates, we resonate with each other, our vibrations soar through space, together and free at the same time. And it becomes a higher relationship, communication becomes almost abstract at times, a relationship without the corrosion or tedium associated with living together, sex, paying the mortgage, or the school fees. A deeply fulfilling relationship with a friend creates a space to meet, a space for eternal rest. It’s a balm in the daily warring of our most common passions, from which, being human, nobody is exempt.

Rarer still is for this kind of friendship to happen between two women, for our culture teaches us to see each other as a threat. We see each other as ‘the other woman,’ the one who can steal our man, or as being younger or smarter. But rarely as a companion or fellow traveler. Our society doesn’t create many spaces for women to meet for their own sake. There has to be an excuse, like meetings at their children’s school, social gatherings for their husband’s work, or a group from the office. There isn’t any given Wednesday, say, when we girls get together just to have a good time, and husbands stay at home looking after their offspring, so that we can have our own personal space. That’s for single women, who really only get together to find a man, not always to see how their friends are feeling about themselves.

This is the context in which was formed this rare and exquisite diamond that is my friendship with Isabel.

How these diaries came into my hands is part of her personal history. It was a year ago. Isabel was going through a period of keeping herself to herself at home due to a blowout at home. The process of understanding what was happening to her led her to recall 1992, when she wrote and wrote constantly, in an attempt to comprehend what was happening to her, just as she later drew and drew as a way of getting in touch with the deepest regions of her being. I arrived at her house on a morning just like so many others, to share a few happy coffees together and do some work before going to work, when I saw a hardback notebook with blue paper backing on the table. It contained around one hundred pages long, all handwritten.

“Read it, and you’All understand lots of things,” she told me and carried on doing what she was doing.

So I read it. I read without stopping until I finished it. It blew my mind and touched my heart. How many times had I felt the same! Told in anecdotes, our two life stories can sound very different: I come from a well-off city family, Isabel from a humble country background; one of us was raised on books and rules, the other in direct contact with nature and art in its purest expression –namely, freedom. A short, passionate and failed relationship when young left her with a daughter. She has lived ever since with the father of her two youngest, who helped her raise her eldest daughter. They’ve been together 37 years now, weathering all the storms, rewriting their earliest contract at every new stage of their lives. I, on the other hand, was unable to make either of my marriages last, and raised my children in an open family, where a lot of people did their bit. My work is apparently away from home, Isabel’s inside it.

But on reading those lines, I again felt our souls dancing in unison. I wasn’t alone. The emotions and feelings captured in these diaries transcended the finite anecdotes of each day and each of us. After several hours of quiet reading, I looked up for the first time, and said, “You have to share this with the rest of womankind. It would be a great relief for every woman who feels isolated at home, or goes to work with half a mind on the children, to reach out to the army of women who are going through exactly the same thing. Money and fame don’t come into it. It would simply be to give a higher meaning to the saga of our grandmothers, mothers, aunts and sisters, and their lives of sacrifice and anonymous postponement. It would be to value centuries of soldiering on in silence, whose only positive was the disinterested love given unconditionally to our families. Although, retroactively, this love can always be reaped by future generations with a different specific gravity.”

She had her doubts, because those words of hers were never written for somebody else to read them. But luckily for all us women I did persuade her. Our challenge to you is to be happy in this day and age. It is a challenge from two soul mates who met as friends, and try on a daily basis to draw back the veil on this mystery of living life as a woman in freedom".

I then took the diaries and wrote my own, interwoven with her’s and we now open the doors to every one of you to tell us your story and create in that way a personal alchemical space of creativity and joy.

Lila Croft