Theology Changes


Dear Readers,

My theology has changed.

I write that with a sense of fear, because it’s hard to let the people we love change.

About ten years ago, I fell in love with a gay Christian. I was melty for him, and I told him so… several times. He was kind to me about it. And honest. I watched him through one season of life in which he intended to remain celibate until he died. I watched him through another season, in which he hoped to someday love a woman and have a family. I believe he is now in a committed relationship with a man, although he and I don’t talk much anymore. It’s painful to stay friends with an unrequited love.

I loved him loyally for about five years. I watched him struggle. I struggled. And I did what I usually do when I can’t figure out my life.

I wrote.

In 2007, I began writing a manuscript about a character named Weston Stark who was living a heartbreaking question: If God loves me so much, why did He make me gay?

I thought it was important for Wes to simultaneously hold two truths. The first truth was that God is real. The second truth is that Wes was, and always would be, gay.

I started by doing research. I did interviews, including a gay Christian who dated men, a gay Christian undergoing Reparative Therapy, a lapsed Catholic who was gay and dating men, a bartender at the local gay bar, and a few others. Absent from my research were interviews with women. I wasn’t opposed to interviewing them, but none really popped up conveniently in my life, while it seemed like there was always another man I could ask for an interview.

Next, I dug into resources at the public library. I watched every documentary I could get my hands on, then I finished up my search with the World Wide Web. The one type of research I didn’t do was digging into the debate of whether God actually hates homosexuality. I’m not sure why I didn’t want to go there, but it was the one place I avoided in my research.

Don’t get me wrong; I knew the verses. For a few years of his life, Weston kept a note card taped to the bottom of his sock drawer, where he didn’t think his parents would find it. On it, was Leviticus 18:22. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

I promise, I knew and still know the verses.

Ultimately, my research led me to the ending of Weston’s story: suicide.

I won’t recount the stats or reasoning behind that ending, but suffice it to say that I didn’t believe I could tell his story honestly with any other ending. I tried.

So, I wrote my manuscript. It was mostly completed by year five, but I’ve tinkered with it off-and-on ever since.

Flash forward to 2017.

At the beginning of the year, I felt really torn about homosexuality. After ten years of writing about it, after loving someone for whom it was often the central struggle of his life, and after researching it to death, I was no closer to harmonizing my own heart with what I believed to be the obligatory Christian stance.

My own stance went something like this: nothing in my heart condemns homosexuality. Nothing in my heart believes it’s sinful. I don’t feel any sense of ick about it. No anger or hatred. I have always had lots of gay friends and I adore them. But when I disagree with something I find in the Bible, I yield to God. Because He gets to decide right and wrong. I don’t get to decide.

Then, I started law school.

I met a friend who asked me all of the hard questions, repeatedly.

I started intensely studying the law and how to interpret and understand it, which has an awful lot in common with studying the Bible and how to interpret and understand it.

I decided it was time for me to go where I hadn’t been willing to go previously : Biblical interpretation.

I’ve been reading a lot. Obviously, I have to read for class, which is particularly interesting this semester because I have my first Constitutional Law class… basically I have a class that’s all about interpreting a text written a long time ago, but which we have to apply today. I have also not lost diligence with my Bible, and I’ve read a few Christian non-fiction books about homosexuality, the history of the Bible, and a memoir of a lesbian who converted to Christianity.

And the thing is, the nagging question isn’t whether homosexuality is a sin. It’s a question that’s important. It’s a question that’s relevant. It’s a question for which my answer has changed: I don’t think it’s a sin.

However, the bigger question really is: how do I read the Bible and get out of it what God wants me to get out of it?

I write all of this because I’m afraid that some of you will look on me with eyes of judgment because I no longer see what you see.

I’m still a Christian. I still rely solely on the mercy of a crucified Savior. I still read my Bible and pray on a near-daily basis.

I just think we’ve been reading the Bible wrong.

Here and now doesn’t seem like the time to go into why I think we’ve been reading it wrong. Mostly what I want to do here and now is be lazy. I could wait and have all of these conversations in due time, as they arise with each of you naturally, but it’s far easier for me to just put it out there and let you bring it up if it’s something you want to discuss.

I didn’t intend to change, nor did I change as abruptly as it probably looks like I’ve changed. I’ve been intensely arguing with myself and God for the past few months, but I’ve also been studying and thinking and praying and worrying for years. I’ve worked it out (and will continue to work it out) with much fear and trembling, and I’ve come to a clearing where I think I’m going to land for awhile.

That’s not to say that my theology won’t change again tomorrow. Sometimes that happens. It’s also not to say that I understand Biblical interpretation. I don’t. It’s a big issue and something I’m going to be actively seeking to understand for the foreseeable future.

In addition to my lazy purposes in writing this post, I guess I’m writing this in the hopes that you won’t assume. It’s easy to assume that all Christians hate gays. It’s easy to assume that the only right way to read the Bible is the way you read it.

But the truth of living a life committed to Christ is so much messier than that. The truth of Christianity is a decade of struggle followed by a realization that what I believe is not what I’m “supposed” to believe. What I believe is the kind of thing that makes lots of Christians really mad.

It’s cool if you’re mad… but I honestly doubt I’ll change my mind if you try to persuade me that I’m wrong. I might be wrong… or maybe you’re wrong. We’ll have to wait to find out for sure.

Peace out, friends.

 

 

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Surviving 1L Semester 1


There are some really hard things about being in law school.

The level of stress I’ve felt exceeds any I’ve felt in my life. Lots of you are aware of my blood pressure issues. A few are aware of the dry heaving. I’ve had a change appetite and lost weight. My sleep patterns aren’t really a pattern at all. It’s competitive. It’s a lot of reading. It’s terrifying to be cold-called in class.

Honestly, the first semester of law school is a wad of stress that is indescribable to the uninitiated.

However, the most important thing that happened to me this semester has nothing to do with classes or rankings.

Law school has been a beautiful mechanism for reminding me who I am.

And the spirit of Mufasa fills the screen:

I have been blessed to maintain most of the relationships in my life for years if not decades. It is a true joy to have such a shared history with people and to love them as I love family. I was reminded of these enduring relationships when I went to apply for a legal fellowship for the summer, and I listed my references and how long they’ve known me. Personal reference: 17 years. Spiritual reference (it’s a Christian fellowship): 12 years. These relationships are an enormous part of who I am, and it’s lovely to be reminded.

I’m also overwhelmed with how supportive the people in my life have been. Like all of my life decisions, attending law school was abrupt and without much explanation. I was hit with a divine whisper and that was the end of the conversation. I consulted exactly two people before signing up to take the LSAT, and had they told me not to do it, I probably would have done it anyway.

And yet, they’ve been there for me. I did not once consider the amount of support and understanding I would need from the people in my life to get through law school. I have that luxury, because they are there for me even when I don’t ask them to be. No one in my life has guilted me when I’ve canceled plans because I needed to study, and I’ve canceled a lot of plans. They’ve listened to me obsess about my blood pressure. They’ve counseled me. They’ve put up with my constant and inept legal analysis of everyday life. They’ve encouraged and been patient in ways I’m not sure I have ever or will ever reciprocate.

I don’t deserve any of you.

Alongside that, I’ve met so many amazing people in school, and they’ve reminded me of certain things about myself that I’ve forgotten or that I’ve refused to believe.

People at school seem to like me. They tell me that I’m nice, open-minded, stylish (who knew?), and that I’m a good student. They laugh at my jokes and don’t make me feel like an idiot when I do stupid things. They send me encouraging text messages when my crazy is about to overtake me, and they help me celebrate my birthday.

My conception of myself so often fills in the blanks with the worst things people have ever said about me: stubborn, conceited, too busy with tasks to spend time with others, judgmental… it’s so easy to believe.

Thank you to all of my classmates who remind me that I’m okay. I pray that as my weird quirks become more visible to you, you’ll continue to like me anyways.

And let’s all lift a glass to surviving 1L Semester 2! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2017


Dear Readers,

I’ve been contemplating writing a post about what law school is like, because that seems to be the question right now. It’s the small-talk question. It’s the part of my life that’s new and wonderful and terrible. It’s the all-consuming, aching, needy monster-robot that’s sucking the life right out of me, and making me question everything I know.

I’m convinced that it is best described as IDENTITY CRISIS!, and in  that spirit, and the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are the deepest thanks built into my heart right now.

I’m thankful for…

Mom & Dad, who made me smart, independent, patient, and athletic. You gave me a (slightly off-beat) sense of humor, and a love of Star Trek and “Dance Band on the Titanic.”

Mr. Morrill, who made me a writer.

Dave and Lisa, who have been chosen instruments of God in my life, softening my stubborn heart and planting seeds of grace.

Steve and Lori, who have voluntarily stuck by me longer than anyone else has, through Sin City, wildfires, and soggy marshmallows.

Shasta, who forced me to dance and have fun.

Matt and Ashly, who were my first holiday benefactors, who taught me to love food and wine.

And Roni, who makes me laugh and seems to only see the best parts of me.

Thank all of you for making me the person I am today. Happy Thanksgiving!

The LSAT, Moving, and Applying to Law School


Before taking the LSAT, I wrote a post about how stressed I was. And I was really stressed. I wrote about the weight of each and every test question, and how my overall score would be impacted by the questions on which I guessed. I whined and worried. I tried to joke about it, but I really was losing my mind.

In real life (not the interwebs), people would ask me how I was feeling and if I was ready, and I would tell them I was stressed, and they would basically try to persuade me that I shouldn’t be stressed, which made me more stressed. Also, I think there’s something to be said for each person having a process of preparation, and mine happens to involve stress… so it’s possible that my stress helped prepare me and helped improve my score, so eff all of the people who kept trying to talk me out of stressing.

Result of my stress: I actually ended up scoring higher on the LSAT than I had ever scored on any of my practice tests. Basically, my score was good enough that I should have no trouble getting in to any law school that is not Ivy League. Also, it means that I should receive some scholarship money.

________________________________________________

You’d think I’d feel pretty awesome, but I’m actually stressed again.

I am now having all of my info sent to a credential assembly service, which is stressful to me. I am also taking more steps towards selling my house. I am also trying to figure out where I actually want to apply, which impacts when I should sell my house…

All of this is frustrating and, well, stressful to me…

Not having the internet at home or a printer at Starbucks, I end up having about 42 extra steps for each piece of paper I need someone to send to the credential assembly service, because I’ll go to Sbucks to use the internet, only to realize that I have to print something, which requires that I also go to the library. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it bothers me. It bothers me that I have to ask a ton of people to send a ton of things somewhere for me, and then I have to wait for them to do it. It bother me that I’m not sure how to make decisions about where to apply. Pretty much every step of this process bothers me.

For undergrad, I only applied to U of A, because I knew that’s where I would go. I knew I’d be accepted. I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else, and I didn’t feel the need to have backups.

Now that I’m all growed up, I feel I should follow the advice of the experts, who think I should apply to something like 25 schools. Now, realistically, I’m definitely not doing that. I might apply to 8 schools, but it seems like a big, stupid waste of time and stress, because I really don’t intend to move. Applying to Boston College might satisfy some part of me that thinks it would be an adventure to move to Boston, but if I received a full-ride from both Boston College and U of A (which isn’t going to happen, but I’m just saying…), then I would stay in Arizona. Still, I feel obligated to think about all of the places I’m applying, just in case it might be a good idea to move, even though I really don’t want to move.

So, for your perusal, here’s the list of places I may apply… or I may only apply to the U of A again. We’ll see.

U of A

ASU

University North Carolina Charlotte

Wake Forest

Duke

Boston College

Baylor

University of Oregon (or perhaps it’s Oregon State? I can never remember … the one in Eugene)

 

I expect I’ll be accepted to all of those except Duke. How do I even consider so many different possibilities? How do I even think about moving to another state, where I would live without Steve and Lori, my church, Victim Services, and basic knowledge of the city? How do I even think about living in the snow? There’s nothing worse than snow. I’m completely open to going somewhere for a few years, if it’s definitely temporary, but everything I’ve read says I should go to law school in the place where I intend to practice law. Moving to Boston for three years would be cool, but for the rest of my life possibly? I don’t know about that. There’s too much pressure on this one decision.

I know… 1st world problems, eh?

 

How Am I so Effing Slow?


I am looking into the possibility of going to law school in 2017 or 2018.

What I have discovered is that I may not have much trouble getting in… but the trouble will come with the paying for it. Although I am prepared to sell my house, quit my job, and take out loans, I’m really not going to feel comfortable going for it unless I can get about half of it paid for by scholarships.

How does one get a scholarship to attend law school, you ask? Well, the best chance of getting one large scholarship is scoring really high on the LSAT. Of course I will look into other avenues for scholarships, but I actually am a very good taker of tests, so I thought I’d start with the LSAT. Since the LSAT is required of me just to get in and I’d probably want to take it by December, if not September, I thought I should get on that. Also, taking the LSAT is a nice, noncommittal step I can take to gauge whether this is a terrible idea or not.

I took a diagnostic test yesterday. And I did not do terribly. I scored average for all takers of the LSAT, so I certainly would need to do better if I want to both get into law school and receive moneys.

There are some very specific things I struggled with, though.

  1. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to test people for 180 minutes? That’s a horribly long time to sit still and think, and I don’t have the stamina I used to have. I will need to take a lot of practice tests to get myself used to sitting for that long.
  2. I need to think significantly faster. There were 102 questions on the test, and I didn’t even get to 12 of them. I also got something like 8 questions wrong towards the ends of the sections, because I felt rushed. That alone is the difference between full ride and no financial help at all.
  3. I bombed one particular section. Basically, they give you a list of 6-8 items and tell you those items must be sorted into 2-3 columns with 6 or so rules about how you can do it. Ex: Adam, Brian, Charles, Derek, Ed, Fred, and Greg all go to the bar and purchase beers. The bar’s best sellers are Shocktop, Blue Moon, and Red Stripe, so the guys each try one of those. Each guy only drinks one beer. Brian and Ed choose the same beer. Adam and Greg choose different beers. Derek chooses Red Stripe. Two of the guys drink Blue Moon… and then they ask you 6 ish questions about which item falls into which column. I took what can only be described as a glacial pace at this. It wasn’t the I couldn’t answer the questions; it was that it took me twice as long as they gave me to answer each of these, so I ended up guessing quite a lot. I think my biggest problem was that I hadn’t seen a question like that in more than a decade, so I had to build a framework for each scenario and how to answer it, rather than just knowing what I needed to do to figure it out.
  4. Even on the reading comprehension section, I was pretty slow and didn’t finish, because they gave you like six ish really dense paragraphs to read… when I say really dense, I mean that it was the equivalent of reading Shakespeare. The sentence structures were out of control. The diction was out of control. The content was often specific to a field in which I had zero experience. And then, they would ask six questions, each of which took up about half a page, because they were wordy and ridiculous, as well. There were twenty four questions in this section, to be answered in 35 minutes. I didn’t finish.

So… what I’ve discovered is that I am smart enough to do this… but if I don’t hurry the hell up, I disqualify myself from scholarships just by not answering enough questions.

_______________________________________

With the decision of whether to go to law school or not, I’ve tried talking to people about it in advance, because I’ve been described as impulsive, and because I want to be better about including others in the major life decisions I make… and what I’ve discovered is that there were very good reasons I did things without consulting others in the past – not the least of which being that so many people have been completely unreasonable in their responses.

So, here’s the deal:

Why am I thinking about doing this?

That’s a great question. I think this might be a perfect fit for me, or as close to a perfect fit as can actually exist. I think I might be good at practicing law, and I think I might find fulfillment in it.

Also, I hate wondering if I’ve wasted my life, and I think I might wonder if I don’t give this an honest effort.

Also, it hit me like a whisper from the Holy Spirit that I should do this. I’m not saying God definitely told me I should do this. He didn’t… but I think He may have pointed me in this direction, and I try to listen well when I think God is whispering to me.

Isn’t law school competitive and difficult?

That’s an insulting question. Are you implying that I’m not capable of succeeding in law school, or that I’m daunted by challenges? Are you implying that I shouldn’t attempt it because it difficult? Do you genuinely believe I don’t know that law school is competitive and difficult and you’re telling me something new?

Please don’t ask me a question like this.

Do I know what it’s like to try to get rid of student loan debt?

This might be a good question to ask me once I have my LSAT scores, have applied and been accepted, and have been denied scholarships. My slowness to decide on the right choice may be detrimental to me when test-taking, but I think it’s probably wise to take time on each step of this real-life decision, rather than racing ahead 5 years to the day when I’ll have to pay off student loan debt. I’d prefer to figure out whether I’m capable to getting this completely paid for before I give up because it’s so expensive… it may actually cost me nothing to do this. We won’t know until I apply.

Also, I don’t believe money should necessarily deter me, even if I don’t get any financial help with this. The value of seeking and eventually finding my niche isn’t really measurable, and if it were measurable, I suspect it would be worth more than $80,000.

Where are you going to live?

I don’t know. I haven’t even applied yet. There are three schools I’m currently considering applying to… so I don’t even know which city I’ll be in IF I get into any or all of the schools to which I’m planning to apply. Slow the hell down.

What if it doesn’t work out? What if I get there and it’s too hard or I don’t even get accepted?

…then it doesn’t work out. It’s okay to try things and fail. I’m not going to be crushed because I tried something hard and it didn’t work out. I won’t be crushed if I don’t get accepted. I may even just reapply again a year later. Who cares? Trying and failing costs me exactly $208 and a knock to my pride at this point. It’s succeeding that’s costly. A better question would be, “What if it works out?”

 

 

The Definition of Home


I started reading a book called Saturday Night Widows. It’s not a book I intended to read or had ever even heard of, but I happened upon it when a volunteer was using my office, so I had nowhere to go for awhile, and I really couldn’t work on anything because everything was in my office. Thus, I was skulking in Sally’s office, bothering her. The book was on her desk.

I picked it up and started perusing the blurbs, eventually realizing it was a book I needed to read. So I’ve been reading it.

“Holding on there through so many momentous changes, I often wondered about the definition of home. Is it the place where you live, or is it the place where the people you love reside? And if the people you love are gone, where is home then?”

Becky Aikman is the author and that quote is about losing her husband to Cancer.

I’ve been blessed to have been adopted by more than one family at the crucial moments when I needed help understanding what home truly is.

As a kid, my understanding of home was sort of impersonal. I came from a hoarder’s house, so items were to be protected, catalogued, and hidden away for the future behind stacks of newspapers and beneath protective layers of dust. Food came out of bags and boxes. There tended to be a lot of television, solitude, and homework at home, while the substance of life existed elsewhere. Work/school/athletics were the primary focus of the day, and home fell into that the same way rest stops contribute to road trips.

I’m not writing that to complain. It’s just… I needed someone to show me that home wasn’t like that for everyone.

In adopting me, the Johnsons showed me that home came be a place of connection and community. It’s possible to invite others in, even when it’s messy. They showed me that food can slow down the relentless forward motion of a day, and wine can completely pause the world on its axis. There is a discipleship I received Mr. Miyagi-style by eating weekly dinners in the Johnson house.

The Hilsts, in adopting me, showed me that holidays can be simultaneously prepared for, yet relaxing. They showed me how tradition can feed the heart, and how Black Friday may not actually be beneath me. In my childhood, my family had a strong aversion to events. We liked for things to be casual and informal, but I found a joy in the eventishness of Hilst holidays, and I never once felt formal. They also taught me how to watch television with others, rather than next to others.

Home is, and probably always will be, a struggle for me. I always worry about decisions I make regarding the other people who inhabit my house, because I never feel like I’m a strong enough force to build the sense of home I want in the face of opposition. I fear the various ways others have robbed me of my sense of home in the past – both family and roommates.

I own the mortgage on a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house, and as much as I’d like to see myself as that person who has people coming and going the way Martin Luther and Katerina Von Bora did, I find myself wanting to curl into myself a little bit. With my parents in North Carolina, the Johnsons in Phoenix, and the Hilsts in California, I feel a little lost. I feel like home is so incredibly fragile.

Sadly, I’m not writing this out of a mopey feeling at the loss of the Hilsts. I’m not wallowing or melancholy.

A year has passed, and with that year, I’m beginning to accept that home is no longer with the Hilts. It cuts me to write that because I really wanted to believe things would change only in superficial, unimportant ways when they moved. I believe that, of course, I was their home and they were mine. In the wisdom of Pink: “If someone said three years from now, you’d be long-gone, I’d stand up and punch them out, ‘cus they’re all wrong…” I write that sort of absurdly, because I can’t believe I’m like that – thinking in sappy song lyrics, but I do. I don’t think them begrudgingly at all; I don’t feel there’s a wrong in the quiet and distance the Hilsts are keeping. It just feels unaligned or off that I’m not close with the people who’ve been home to me.

As always, season turns to season, and I’m beginning to feel it might now be the worst thing in the world to be vulnerable with a few people with whom I’ve never been vulnerable before. It might not be the worst thing to tell geeky stories of ComiCon to people who’ve never heard them before, or to try to convince a whole new people to attend ComiCon with me. Maybe it’ll be okay to go through those beginning stages of friendship with new people, trying to explain why 200-mile relay races are awesome, books are wondrous, predestination is beautiful. It’s a stage of friendship I haven’t had to do since like 2005, but it is a fun stage of friendship when you embrace it.

 

I hate vulnerability, but it’s probably time to give it another chance. After all, it worked out pretty well for me last time; I found myself adopted into two great families.

 

Kindred Friends


I just had coffee with a free-lance editor, and it was amazing.

About three or four weeks ago, Jocelyn, a newish friend at church, told me she has a friend who edits and is involved in the publishing industry. She thought her friend and I should meet and talk about editing my manuscript and/or helping to connect me with small publishers/graphic designers who could do my cover art if I self-publish/publicists…

I said that would be great, but I wasn’t overwhelmingly excited. I basically looked at it as an opportunity that would likely be a non-event in the big scheme of things.

I’d begun to feel pretty relaxed about my manuscript. I was working on a re-write of it that I was adamant would be the last one. Whatever came of this re-write, I intended to move on and write something else. I intended to query a handful of agents, then just go ahead and self-publish the thing if no one wanted to walk through the process with me.

After several years of work on this manuscript, after querying agents, after researching the industry, after working on my platform… I just don’t get overly hopeful about any of it. I’m unimpressed with opportunities, because they nearly always seem to flop in the end.

Enter Jocelyn. She’s sort of a distant friend. She and I have talked/texted several times about getting together, but nothing has really come of it. I honestly half-expected her to forget about trying to connect me with her editor friend. However, she dutifully gave me Kelcey’s info and gave Kelcey my info.

At that juncture in time, I thought I’d wait a week or two until I was a little more settled at my new job before contacting Kelcey. However, Kelcey ended up contacting me, which was nice. I often feel like my efforts to build friendships go unreciprocated. Sometimes that’s fine. Sometimes, I can take an alarming amount of rejection without being phased. Right now, however, I just haven’t felt like working harder at things than anyone else is working. So, honestly, if Kelcey hadn’t taken the reins, this may have never happened. Thank God she did, because we decided to get coffee.

We planned it super far in advance, and I didn’t think much about it. It was just a slot on my calendar that was filled. Then, we finally met at Raging Sage, which is an excellent local coffee shop. Kelcey got there first and got us a table outside.

When I first saw her, I actually thought we wouldn’t be a great fit, because she’s thin and has super-short hair. I know that’s a stupid thing to think and is beyond logic, but it’s what I thought. My first impression of Kelcey could probably be summed up with the word “dainty.” I have never conceived of myself as dainty, so I had an instant belief that she and I couldn’t possibly have anything in common.

However, Kelcey began talking and my prejudice quickly changed. She has a strong interest in mental health. She feels like God has been dismantling her lately. She wrote a journal entry in her tween years about how she wanted to grow up to be an editor. She recently lost some close friends to a move to another city and some sort of emotional mess that she didn’t describe in detail. She mentioned going into an angry-at-You, God- phase, during which, she stopped attending church and had a bit of a break-down.

And I could relate to all of it. Also, I loved the sense of vulnerability Kelcey brought to the table on the very first time we met.

About thirty minutes in, I thought, “Okay, this might be okay.” I thought we might be able to get along working on my manuscript, which is saying a lot, because I feel incredibly possessive and protective of Madi and Wes. The thought of including a stranger in their growth and… for lack of a better word: sanctification, is horrifying. I don’t have any problem sharing Madi, Wes and their story with readers, but letting anyone have input in their lives is a whole other thing.

I think that may explain the snap judgment of believing that Kelcey’s thinness and hair signified a mismatch. I may have wanted her to be the wrong person, because I desperately fear entrusting my characters to her… or anyone.

Once I had given an explanation of my writing to Kelcey, she seemed really interested. She said great things about my ideas, and she was pretty up-front about saying she believes God has brought me into her life.

We decided that she should write up a contract for us and send it to me so that I could consider the partnership.

Then, we just continued talking… and she quoted The Office.

She talked about the time she spent working as a lumberjack in Oregon, and she didn’t seem quite so dainty anymore.

She mentioned her tattoo that’s written in Elvish and says that not all those who wander are lost… and is enormous.

Then she said she likes to Cosplay.

Then she talked about her blog.

Then she told me her husband loves comics.

That’s when I decided that she and I need to be besties, and we talked about possibly attending Phoenix ComiCon together.

She also mentioned feeling alienated lately and really wanting to find friends.

And that’s when it hit me: I miss Ashly so much.

I think maybe it’s the word “bestie” that got to me. It’s a word I started using to and about Ashly because of the show Big Bang Theory. There’s this hilarious character who sort of pushes the bestie label on someone who definitely isn’t a bestie. And it cracks me up. She has this HUGE portrait made of the two of them, then tries to hang it in a super public place. She says really inappropriate things about the “bestie” and it reaches a creep factor of 12. And it’s hilarious. She is the character on the show who I most relate to, which maybe sounds like I’m insulting myself, but, really, she’s a great character.

When I had the thought of, “Kelcey and I should be besties,” is just…

Lauren once said that Ashly and I speak our own language. She and I will get going about a book or a movie sometimes, and nothing anyone else says even seems valid. Ashly is the literary, nerdy wise sister I always craved. She’s humble and caring. She always tries to go beyond even what’s fair to make people feel loved and at peace. She’s attended ComiCon with me, read my manuscript, prayed, and she has been a kindred spirit.

And then, I unintentionally called Kelcey a kindred spirit when she and I were talking. Which sucks, because I don’t even know if she knows why that’s such an important term. Ashly knows. She could explain that it’s how Ann-with-an-e referred to her own bestie, Diana. It’s a term of endearment planted deeply in the love of story that Ashly and I share.

I know this sounds stupid, but Ashly reads Harry Potter the same way I read it. There is something magical about that common love for story and fantasy that extends far beyond J K Rowling’s books. Finding Ashly was finding a person who perceives the world as I perceive it.

Ashly and I have our differences, but even so, I always felt like she and I understood each other in an uncommon way. I felt like we appreciated each other in an uncommon way. And I’ve deeply felt the loss of her in my life for the past few months.

After getting coffee with Kelcey, she and I walked over to a comic shop together – a comic shop I’ve only ever been in alone or with Ashly.

I feel a defensiveness of Ashly against myself. I feel adamant that Ashly could never be replaced, and spending time with Kelcey seems a little like an attempt to fill the Ashly void in my life.

Of course, it isn’t like that. Ashly was blessed with a new friendship almost immediately after moving to CA, and I didn’t resent or lament that; I was so happy for her. Still, it’s an ache to have to move forward. The friendship isn’t over, but it’s changing, and I wish it could remain the same.

Still, it’s nice to know that there are people out there who perceive the world in the same way I perceive it. Kelcey may truly be a kindred spirit, and maybe there’s hope that the three of us can attend ComiCon together.