Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde is an autobiography that follows Lorde's life from childhood to adulthood as she navigates life as a black lesbian in New York City and Mexico.
Lorde says that "every woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me." The book focuses on her growth as a person but also her relationships with women. In the end, she defines the word Zami as "a Carriacou name for women who work together as friends and lovers." It's representative of what the themes of the book are in many ways.
When Zami's relationship with a woman named Bea sours, she ends things. Bea doesn't take it well, however, and continues to try to see Lorde. This is one of the things that sends her to Mexico instead of continuing to live in New York. Lorde writes:
I was hiding out at Jean and Alf's place, having been warned by an incredulous Rhea that a weeping girl was trying to find me. Rhea ran interference, making excuses to Bea as she went in and out of the apartment to work. Luckily, I had already quit my job at the Health Center, for Bea had gone there first.
When she leaves New York, she feels like she's leaving with stress and anger on her heels. That feeling starts to go away by the time she gets to Mexico and starts to integrate with the community there. She also is able to see the negative aspects of her relationship with Bea when she enters a relationship with Eudora in Mexico.
Though things with Eudora end, she leaves an imprint on Lorde. The relationship they have makes her more aware of what relationships should be. Once she returns to New York, she reflects on it and how it has affected her relationship with Muriel, her new girlfriend. She says:
We were reinventing the world together. Muriel opened me to a world of possibilities that felt like a legacy left me by Eudora's sad funny eyes and patient laugh. I had learned from Eudora how to take care of business, be dyke-proud, how to love and live to tell the story, and with flair. Muriel and I were making the lessons become real together.
Throughout the book, her past relationships help her better navigate her future ones. When she enters her relationship with Afrekete, she's able to fully be herself. Even when it's over, Lorde doesn't write with sorrow or bitterness. She says, "We had come together like elements erupting into an electric storm, exchanging energy, sharing charge, brief and drenching. Then we parted, passed, reformed, reshaping ourselves the better for the exchange."