Why I Call You Friends (and Mean It)

Aug 8 2015

Dear Friends,

I’ve been having a hard time putting pen to paper this week, not because I have nothing to say, but because I have so very many things racing around my head and my heart. My thoughts and feelings, hopeful and discouraged, are running circles around me, creating quite a tornado effect, such that picking just one thing from the swirling, whirling storm has proved challenging, like trying to know whether to focus on Toto’s disappearance or the Wicked Witch’s cackling, or maybe make a run for Auntie Em’s house which is shelter but also off its foundation, uprooted and adrift.

I’ve been well this week overall and mentally recovering from feeling hidey; wanting, in fact, to get back to you, my friends, because we have things to say to each other, like hi, and how are you, and are you in the tornado, too, or are you outside it for now? 

The internet is a strange place. Fascinating. Wonderful. Magical. Awful. That’s no surprise to you, I’m sure; it’s no surprise to me, either.

The internet, I’ve found, is a lot like the rest of life — in exactly the same fascinating, wonderful, magical, awful ways — and so I don’t consider it virtual. Not at all. Not anymore. Not when the feelings elicited online are real. Not when it changes minds and hearts — for real. Not when the relationships created are, you guessed it, real.

Now, I get it — I do — when people say being online is addictive, and it can change our communication, and it alters how our brains work, and we need to have time with our community face-to-face. I agree with all those things; it’s just that I think those are true for our other life pursuits, as well; the internet is one of many things that affects us this way.

Books, for example. Oh my gosh with the books already! I sink addictively into books, like, constantly, and I’ll be lying if I said my kids don’t have to put their wee little faces between my head and the latest Ilona Andrews novel and remind me they’re there. “MommommommomMOMMYmom!” Face to face? “Oh, yeah, kids! Sorry about that! Mommy will be right with you as soon as this chapter’s done. Or maybe the next one…”

We need to be cautious and careful about all of life’s pulls, and the internet is one of them. But the internet is also very, very good when it’s an avenue to each other. When it beckons community closer. When it frees us to be deeply, truly, authentically ourselves. When it shows us we’re not alone.

You folks have been — you are — real friends to me, which is one of the thoughts that’s been whirling and swirling as I left this haiku on my blog for the last week, describing my feelings about the Church and its exclusion of people who are welcoming and affirming of those who are LGBTQ:

Balls, balls, balls, balls, balls.
Balls, balls, balls, balls, balls, balls, balls.

Fuckity fuck. Balls.

The haiku is, obviously, spiritually deep and totally non-offensive, by which I mean shallow and potentially offensive depending on how you feel about balls and profanity.

Also, I am mature in the Lord.

I thought about taking my poem down, mostly because I am, at heart, an optimist and pretty set at finding joy and magic in the mess, and I didn’t like leaving discouragement and despair and defeat just sitting there, smoldering.

I kept thinking things like, “I wouldn’t recite my Balls haiku at work,” and “I wouldn’t recite it in church,” and “I wouldn’t say it to my mom-in-law” who occasionally reads this blog and may have to burn her out eyeballs after reading that (or who may secretly giggle because you never know with that lady, and I’ve corrupted her to the best of my ability — you can pray for her).

My point, in other words, is I have a filter, faulty though it may be in some situations, so I wondered whether I should — whether I ought to — leave my doleful Eeyore of a poem sitting out on the world wide webs for all to see, and I decided yes again and again. I decided yes, I’ll leave it there, because you’re my friends, and this is the kind of thing I’d recite to you if we sat on my back patio together after dark sipping gin while we listened to the crickets and loosened our hair and slumped low in our chairs with our feet on the rungs of the unwashed table in front of us, talking about love and loss, and faith and freedom, and magic and mess.

I’d recite my poem aloud, and you’d hear my voice — balls, balls, balls, balls… — and you’d know I’m frustrated and sad and longing for humanity to love each other better and broader and deeper and wider and higher and braver and true. Fuckity fuck. BALLS.

You’d laugh, but knowingly, and I’d laugh back, because there are something we can understand about each other without the longer words of explanation. That’s friendship. And that’s exactly what those of you who commented and Facebooked and emailed your giggles did. And those of you who chuckled quietly. Or nodded sagely. Or raised a glass in sympathy.

So I left my haiku all week, knowing some folks would leave but most of you would stay because we sit together so often after dark, waving to each other, and we’ve built something real here that bolsters us together when we’re a little lost or a little alone. Friends who are learning to trust each other’s hearts and to let each other see who we really are. Really real.

My pledge to you, as long as this space exists, is to let you in. Whenever I write, whether weird or wonky or wild and wonderful, I’ll let you all the way in, friends. All the way into this crazy life. Which is risky, yes. SO RISKY, this friendship thing, right? Risky, absolutely, because friendship where we reveal true pieces of ourselves always is. Risky and worth it.

In conclusion, Hi. And How are you? And Are you in the tornado, too, friend, or are you outside it for now? 

With love,

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P.S. Waving in the dark.

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P.P.S. That picture is from several weeks ago while I was watching my son as he slept in our car after vomiting all over Crater National Park.

P.P.P.S. God bless us, every one.