Wednesday, March 07, 2018

On friendship, beads, and column-writing


They are inexpensive beads: mostly glass with some corn beads, made by hand at the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, North Carolina, which I purchased during the summer I worked for the Cherokee Historical Society in 2014.

Since returning from that trip, I have often worn them, usually out of view and under my shirt. The other day, as I removed them for the night, I wondered why I wear them, and the answer appeared clearly enough: friends.

Despite the present fact that I am not in touch with many of the people I worked with - one of whom was killed in a work-related accident the following summer - I often recall the fondness I felt for the actors, crew, and community members that were my co-workers and housemates that year. When I reflect on friendship, or a friend I miss, or I am embarking on a day where I could use the support of friends, I often put on these two necklaces. Until I remove my shirt, I often forget they are there.

In my Desert Sage column, I've been assembling pieces on the theme of friendship as well. In a two-parter this month, I took up the story of journalist Quinn Norton and (imperfectly, given my 600-word limit) whether our choice of friends reflects on us.

(Sidebar: Norton's response to what happened to her, and how that story has been told, is also of interest even though I am not convinced by all of it.)

Based on some reader comments (one of whom I would quote), I returned to the matter of friendship last week in a piece that was also about local elections. (Read: Friendship is a good model for healthy civic life)

If the individual columns are little 600-word beads, what will that necklace look like when it is done?

I hope to keep working on it.

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