"I don't belong here. There has been some terrible mistake and I am going to utterly disappoint everyone here and I will be a failure."
"What were they thinking? I cannot compete with the other people here. I don't even know if I'm a good writer. Actually I do...I know I can't write as well as the people in here probably can."
The "people in here" were a collection of twenty students from across the country. Only 20 students selected from the entire country to participate in a month-long internship in Washington D.C. with the World Journalism Institute. I was scared shitless.
I don't remember much else from that first evening except for one crucial phrase. It was after the director of the Institute walked in the room, full of energy and excitement, announcing that, "Each one of you are here for a reason." My ears perked up. What? It's not an accident that they selected me-ME-out of hundreds of applicants to spend a month training with the top writers, researchers, journalists in the field? I am here for a reason. There is a purpose behind everything even if I don't know it yet.
What I thought the purpose of that month was is different than what it has turned out to be. In my 20-year-old mind, the purpose of attending WJI was to hone my craft so I could eventually traipse across the world as a foreign/war correspondent the NYT. Obviously. Now, I'm starting to think that perhaps the main purpose was not so much about what I would do with the training I received, but how my life would be changed by the people I met. One person in particular.
One person who I have not seen since that hot summer in DC seven and a half years ago. Until three days ago. For five glorious hours, Holly and I nestled ourselves into a back corner of a French Bistro in a part of the country neither of us have ever been before and talked. And talked. And planned. And dreamed. And had an altogether natural, no-where-near-out-of-the-ordinary, it-was-as-if-we-saw-each-other-seven-days-not-years-ago conversation. Maybe it was the Skype dates in the not-so-distant past; the long distance phone calls, the emails and Facebook messages, the blog posts that meant we weren't catching up on the last seven years of our lives, but merely updating since the last time we had an in depth conversation (probably about a month ago).
I am more and more in awe of how I can call this woman my friend and that she's actually closer to me than some of the people who I have grown up next to despite the hundreds of miles that separate us. It's crazy to think that I would rather spend 16 days in a car with her this summer than with anyone else because I know she gets it. She gets me. She mirrors the passion I have inside to do something. To get up off our asses and affect change. To make a difference. To live boldly and purposefully.
|I Adore This Girl|
In this crazy, beautiful, stressful, adventurous, unpredictable, sometimes fucked up life, it is so rare and difficult to find a kindred spirit; a twin soul who will journey through with you whether that means laughing at your own stupidity or crying over it. We have seen each other through college exams and graduations, first jobs, first times living alone, first heart breaks. We have been able to talk through despair and death and sorrow. We have lived through multiple moves to multiple parts of the country. All with about 3,000 miles between us. Yet, through all of this, we both have held on to an unwavering sense of hope. An understanding that there is a great need to be met and we will rise to the challenge.
One of my favorite writers/poets, Khalil Gibran, wrote it so perfectly in his poem On Friendship, "And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit....And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."
That is why, with her notebook, calendar, and smart phone in hand, we mapped out the route we will take on our road trip, how many miles, how long it will take, what we want to do, what theme we will have. And while it's not going to be the entire country or the whole summer like we originally envisioned (we are, after all, responsible adults with jobs, pets, rent, and bills), I believe it will be perfect.
After Holly dropped me back off at my uncle's house and we were hugging each other goodbye, she said, "There's no way we can go seven years without seeing each other again. We can't. We have June."
We have June. Let the countdown begin. :)
Oh, and for the record, I wasn't a failure at WJI. My writing skills were comparable (sometimes better) than the other students there. Yes, each one of us was there for a reason.