Sunday, June 28, 2009

some prose about friendship and community

this is a non-fiction piece i'm working on. it's not yet titled.
(i think i'm becoming the type of person who can't title things until they are completely finished and edited)

"Life is born in a community. Existence is breathing, eating, going through the motions. But real living is about family and friends. Life is laughing until you cry. It’s crying at a good book. Life is dancing until you sweat your hair out. It’s hugs and drinks on the house. You can’t really have a life if you’re alone.

"That’s the reason I almost moved to Kansas. I met my Topeka-native best friend at college here in Oklahoma City, but when she decided she didn’t want to make dance her career, she realized that there was no need to pay the high tuition at the premier institution for dance in Middle America. She went back home to be a math education major.

"I lived life for the first time when I was with her. We partied together, dance around our dorm in pajamas together, listened to *NSYNC while cleaning our rooms together, and best of all we were together for the hard times. I was there when her boyfriend broke up with her again. She was there when kids from my high school kept dying. Together, we made the decision for her to transfer.

"When I discovered that I wanted to teach, we talked about me transferring to her school or to one near hers. It just seemed perfect. There was really nothing tying me to Oklahoma, nothing keeping me here. We could be roommates again. We would be each other’s support system in a whole new way because we have the same philosophy about teaching. We don’t want to teach at private schools where the money might be better and the risks lower. We want to teach where a lot of the kids have little direction or motivation, where we can actually make a difference in their lives. She asked me an important question. She said, 'Naj, do you really want to go to work all day and fight the good fight with people who won’t help, and then come home at night to an empty kitchen with no friends, no husband, and no cat?'

"The only answer to that question was no. That sounds like an easy way to get tapped out before I really get started. So I was going to leave. I was going to move to Lawrence in January of 2010 and start learning how to teach.

"And then it happened.

"I was sitting in front of Starbucks in Bricktown waiting until it was time to go to work. I was reading a book, but was all of the sudden overwhelmed by my love for Oklahoma and the potential it has to be the perfect balance between city and country. I came to the realization that was partially my undoing. Who is going to change this place for the better? The Spirit said, “Why not me?” When will I be able to accomplish this? And the Spirit said, “Why not now?”
This realization, this calling if you will, has messed up all of my plans. Jennifer’s long-term boyfriend (who she got back together with, more than once, since then) is inextricably bound to Topeka. Jen doesn’t really want to leave either. And I am now called to accomplish something beautiful in Oklahoma. We are destined to be four hours apart forever.

"Approximately once every two weeks one of us text messages the other to talk about how miserable we are because no one in our respective state is as cool as our “BFF/Love Sound/Roomie For Life.” We each have acquaintances, even friends that we spend time with. Jen has a new roommate. But neither of us can connect to anyone the way we connect to each other.

"That is the only fear I still have about my life here. Where will the support come from? Who’s going to cook for me when I come home worn to the bone and stressed out about the kids at school? Better yet, who’s going to push me to stay up studying when I’m in my fifth year of my undergrad because I changed my major? The kids you go to the club with are not that down. The guy you chat to when neither of you are busy is not that into you.

"So how do you build a community when the one you want is out of your reach?"

i would genuinely like answers to that question if you have do you build a community when the one you want is out of your reach?

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