My best friend Erica is four years younger than me, so I was already done with college before she even started it– and when the time came, she headed off to school in Chicago, leaving me behind in the Twin Cities to carve my way without her. Our friendship had never been tested by distance before– who were we to know if it could withstand all those miles?
About a month into the school year, I drove out to Chicago to spend the weekend with her, and one night, we ended up sitting alone in a lounge, share our hearts and secrets and fears, our prayer requests, our tears. And that’s when I knew our friendship was a lasting one.
I wrote a poem about it, about three years after college graduation. It was actually a big deal because– surprise, surprise– I actually didn’t write for the first three years after I got my writing degree. My creativity was sapped, my OCD was out of control, and I hadn’t experienced enough of life yet to really have much to say.
So this poem was important. Not only did it get my creative juices flowing again, but when I stumbled upon a girl from my writing program in a stairwell one day, I mentioned to her that I had been working on this poem and asked if she’d take a look. Anna and I started to meet together to talk about writing and soon decided to invite others to join us. That is the start of my writing group, which is still going strong in our seventh year.
All that to say, the following is not the best work I have ever produced– but it is one of the most important poems I have written because of all that transpired after. Seven years later, I am working hard on my second manuscript, maintain a daily blog, and Can. Not. Stop. Writing.
This September day is costumed in summer’s silly charm,
and wonder itself walks the streets of Chicago, a gentleman
bidding good day to friends drunk on the festive flavor of reunion.
Distance, an unfamiliar bully, tests their untried alliance but
is curbed by a charming exchange in a dormitory lounge; Chicago lights
and dirty street sounds don’t breach the quiet dark of this room
to bother best friends who sit and weep together
for the near or distant future.
With juvenile delight, they grasp hands (and their friendship)
and hold tight. A wild disclosure of laughter, tears, and stories,
all exposed to the eavesdropping couch that’s received them
and to the mural on the far wall featuring an old hymn’s lyrics:
“Come, Ye Sinners,” and they do. Come.
To the throne of their able King, whose steady hands,
cupped and strong, award solid and abundant support.
Rallied in aggressive prayer, the girls are shored for survival
while joy rises and falls: offering and receipt.
Their celebrated plans could not conceive this conversation
and the beautiful crux: forever exists for them,
but it seems more important that
now they are here.