Two years ago I asked two friends to meet me for coffee to talk about something important. It took a few weeks to find a time that worked for all three of us, but I wanted to do it right and not ask for this huge favor via text or when a bunch of others were around. We chatted for a bit that morning, before they asked me what the big deal was and if everything was okay. I handed each of them an envelope and asked if I could hire them to by on my Dissertation Community. I had faculty members who would be my Dissertation Committee (a group of experts to give feedback and insights during the final stages of my Ph.D.). During a late night editing session, I had realized that was not enough. I needed some other people who were just there on my side. I asked that they check on my each week, just to ask if there had been progress (no editing or writing required). And to be at my graduation ceremony, whenever that day would come, using the money in those envelopes. A few months later I added a third member to this little community.
With my graduation now less than three months away, I am so grateful to these friends and our journey together.
To Beth, who sees strength in me that I too often miss. For all of the five-mile and eight-mile Saturday mornings that kept me sane the following week. For being someone I knew I could call at 3 in the morning for help. For coming over when I didn’t want you to, but I needed you too. For random gifts that filled my desk alongside piles of articles until I finally hit submit.
To Patricia, who invites me into her home and her family every six months as though no time has passed. For taking me to the beach, the other beach, and that other beach. For loving your husband and daughters so well. For talking during runs when I couldn’t any more. For letting me play with Sunshine and Kaity-Bug.
To Coralie, who lives out her love of others authentically and humbly every single day. For letting me walk through your unlocked door early and stay late, and come again next week. For always striving to be an amazing mom to three joyful and crazy boys, and loving them every single day through the crazy. For sharing Eli-stories at exactly the moments I needed them. For using our mom voice in the best possible ways.
Once upon a time I joined a Home Community. That summer I fell out of a raft and floated down a river for a little bit, with my oar to hold onto. That was the first adventure I remember among these friends. I am grateful it wasn’t the last and they have been with me throughout this journey, and into what’s next.
#52sparks is my year-long writing series based on an art prompt challenge. The title is inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.