Yesterday I talked to three friends on the phone. Wrote emails to two more. Sent an essay to another. Today, wrote another two. And texted.
Last week, I stood shoulder to shoulder with friends and walked across a stage into our futures. For nine days prior to that, I roomed with one and sat in a classroom with seven more, in my final workshop of grad school, pouring ourselves into and over each other's words. Risking a breaking open. Those people I will trust forever more with my writing. And look at theirs, anytime they ask. Because we became together. And then 25 more in a pedagogy class which I didn't want to take, and learned something in, despite myself, and it had everything to do with sitting with my peers, the shared companionship.
And here, at VSC, meeting people every month, some of whom have become friends, others who form a vast network of people who care about the things I care about. Like mycelium, a web of writers growing in colonies and substrates, and we all feed each other in a sybiotic circle of understanding.
It has been a complicated month. And wondrous. And complicated.
And I might have forgotten, in the complicated wonder, that words are a kind of intimacy, an alter ego, the way letters hold hands with meaning; a support or kindred ally. Maybe just the way I understand the world. But a sort of friendship as well––a booked shelf being a wall of warmth and affection.
I graduated with my MFA on August 8th, three new letters to put behind my name, winding like a string of dna. My husband Joe always joked that they stood for Mother Fucking Artist. I have wanted those three little letters for longer than almost imaginable. To desire something and then have it come true... there are not enough letters for that, like a second self appearing from the periphery. Did that me exist all along, off in the wings, just waiting like a long lost friend to come say hello?
And rooting me on, all the way, was my family. I know they say family are not typically considered friends, but I call BS on that. They took me to the threshold, they stood there as I walked through, the best support. And I will do the same for them––show up. And feel every minute grateful for the chance. Sometimes I think my brother is one of my better friends in this world. He couldn't be there, but it didn't matter, because he called, and texted, and so did his kids. So really, he was there.
In origin, friend comes from the root meaning 'to love.' That is just the best definition out there.
You know how you walk past something every day for months, not seeing it, and then all of a sudden it is the only thing you can see? This is above the entrance to my studio.
Fortunate, grateful, and loved. Lucky.
A growing family of friends and words.
Like wishing on a star and having it come true.
So much to be thankful for. The cup is half full.
And this blog... a friend I'd almost forgotten.
Something I read on Brain Pickings yesterday, by John O'Donohue:
“A friend is a loved one who awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.”
Amen to that.
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection and personal regard; a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations; an intimate
synonyms: companion, soul mate, intimate, confidante, confidant, familiar, alter ego, second self, playmate, playfellow, classmate, schoolmate, workmate; ally, associate; sister, brother; best friend, kindred spirit, bosom buddy, bosom friend; pal, chum, sidekick, crony, main man, mate, buddy, bud, amigo, compadre, homeboy, homegirl, homie, dawg, gal pal, BF, BFF;
2. a person who gives assistance, or acts as an ally or supporter of a cause, organization, or country by giving financial or other help. "join the Friends of the Library"
3. a person on the same side, not an enemy; on good terms with another; not hostile: "she was unsure whether he was friend or foe"
4. a familiar or helpful thing. "he settled for that old friend, the compensation grant"
5. (often as a polite form of address or in ironic reference) an acquaintance or a stranger one comes across. "my friends, let me introduce myself"
6. a contact associated with a social networking website.
7. a member of the Religious Society of Friends; a Quaker.
1. add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website.
2. befriend someone.
Old English frēond, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vriend and German Freund, from an Indo-European root meaning 'to love;' cognate with Old Saxon friund, Old High German friunt, Gothic frijōnds, orig. present participle of frēogan, cognate with Gothic frijōn to love, lover, relative