August 1, 2012 by Chelisa

I had an awesome talk with a good friend tonight.

She’s half-way across the world. Literally. But we met in a place where we were both ready for our friendship to sprout. In 2008, I was taking a summer class with a hero of Texas literary study. Don Graham. In class, he was the one who did most of the talking, not because he monopolized the conversation on purpose, but because he was so fucking brilliant that no one wanted to interrupt him. The students in that class drank every drop of wisdom that Dr. Graham (who insisted on us calling him Don) had to offer. It was also an 8:30 a.m. summer class, which meant that most days I showed up hungover in Nike shorts, but I was there, every.freaking.morning.

My husband, Matt, (who was my boyfriend at the time) also had Dr. Graham as an undergraduate fifteen years a few years before. Dr. Graham was the reason that hubbykins decided to study literature in graduate school. Dr. Graham connected Matt to his home, to his intellect, to everything that he became as he grew from a boy in West Texas to the man who was a professor at The University of Texas at Austin. We both owed a great debt to this man, who had instilled so much in us, so we decided to go to happy hour at Dog & Duck (THE BEST BAR IN AUSTIN, period.) to have some beers with him.

So, we showed up a few minutes late.

When we arrived, the table was full and Dr. Graham and his wife (the extraordinary Betsy Berry) were engaging a table full of students with their stories of their studies and previous classes.

I was shocked when Dr. Graham stopped his conversation to greet me (by name!) and introduce me to his wife (by name!). I introduced my boyfriend, and after a few beers and some timelining, we discovered that Matt was in the very class in which Betsy was a TA, when she met Don for the first time. Rest assured that we all had several laughs about all ending up at that table together fifteen  a few years later.

I then saw a beautiful girl, next to whom the only two seats were available. She offered me a beer from her pitcher, and that’s all it took (I’m a cheap date). We started talking, and still haven’t stopped, years later.

Four years later, after marriages, divorces, babies, long-distance loves, phone conversations, many long afternoons of talking and drinking wine, we had a Skype date. Both of us far removed from the Austin bar where, and certainly the circumstances under which we met, I was reminded of the serendipity of the evening when we first started talking.

Somehow (well, I know how, and maybe I’ll elaborate in another post sometime soon), we ended up working for the same company. Through the scope of our work (and our personal lives) we’re trying to live in the same, hard truth. We talked about coming clean with ourselves, and the things about our lives that we were working on fixing. I shared my earlier blog with her, in hopes that maybe that could concisely state what I meant. She laughed, sighed, and had an appropriate reaction to the words.Then we started talking about what I meant in the blog.

She’s also a blogger, and I told her that one of her posts touched me. So much, that I posted a link to it in my facebook feed, where several friends and family members reached out and told me how her blog had affected them. She and I then shifted the conversation to what genuinely affect us. How we are both affected in our writing, professionally and personally, but don’t take the time to share those things that affect us with everyone else. We’re afraid that we’ll look stupid if those things don’t affect anyone else. That people will judge us, myriad excuses that keep us from shining our lights and giving credit where it’s due.

We decided that from now on, we’re no longer silent on (social media, or otherwise) the things that make us go “Wow.” We called it “Inspirational Authenticity” and it’s what we based our friendship on, only we didn’t have a name for it four years ago (we just called it sushi lunches that lasted until one a.m. with two packs of cigarettes and four bottles of wine). 

So, from now on, I’m going to work on telling people when they say something that moves me. I’m going to come clean with my muses. What affects you? What do you do about it?


2 thoughts on “Authenticity

  1. Katie says:

    You’re such a fantastic blogger. I love the the way you tell stories with both humor and depth, and I love this post. So…can I share it? 😉

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