Hey - Two Brothers Talking

Where We Come From: Thoughts on High School

May 19, 2020

Hey James,

Well, it’s been about a week and a half since Friends’ End Day. What an incredible weekend that was, full of discovery and creativity and vulnerability. I continue to be grateful for our community of friends who show up for these things we’ve built. And this party in particular wouldn’t be possible if you hadn’t created the holiday when we were in high school.

Do you remember what those years were like? I have been reminiscing while reading old journal entries I wrote back then. In my writing, I see so many of the challenges and hang-ups I still wrestle with fifteen years later. There are moments when I want to reach my hand back through time to slap myself for my foolishness. I was such a twerp!

Okay – let me give myself a little grace. Teenagers are full of goofy mistakes and uncertain decisions, and I was no exception. They are learning to step outside of the cocoon their families have built for them, and that growth is uncomfortable or unsightly at times. The best that we can hope for is that there are people around us who help us grow in healthy ways.

And man, did I have some great people around me. The friends I made in high school, along with those I kept from grade school, all gave me tools and skills and support as I moved into a new world. They pushed me to articulate my opinions in a more nuanced way. They let me know it’s okay to have fun sometimes. They helped me to understand that love isn’t just holding hands, it’s about showing up for people in the way they need you to.

Many of the people I’m writing about were there for you, too. And of course you had other friends as well, people who similarly pushed and comforted you at various times as you navigated your own exploration of a larger world. And I know that each of those people, and everyone else in our community today, can identify those people who cared for them during their turbulent high school years.

I am grateful for my friends in high school, for their ability to stick by me even when I made it unpleasant to do so. I am grateful that you and I solidified our bond during those years. And I am grateful that all of you, those people who mattered so much to me back then, still stand by me and help me continue to grow.

-Paul

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