"Friends come and go, like the waves of the ocean, but the true ones stay like an octopus on your face."
Whether you find that stupidly profound or profoundly stupid...whatevs. Point is, Octopus Face Friends are the best!
I'm at a place in my life where I have cultivated a network of friends and colleagues who, on top of being funny, fabulous, fiercely loyal, and top-notch humans, are also doing some really incredible things. I am in awe of what these hyper-talented and driven people are creating, advocating, producing, fighting for or against, and in general making thoughtful use of their time and space on this floating blue orb.
One such Octopus Face Friend is my dear pal V. We met-cute as neighbors in our 3-story walk up in Chicago—she was on the first floor and I on the third and a lovably janky rooftop with unmitigated city views. We bonded over our similarities (we love books!), embraced our differences (she's a bad-ass lawyering tea connoisseur and I drink Lipton), and laughed about the middle-aged goofus in the apartment sandwiched between my floor and her ceiling. Our chats are always marathon-length, covering anything, everything, and sometimes nothing—the mark of a true friendship.
Eventually, we each moved to new homes, but made the effort so as to not lose touch. That in itself should be commended—the Effort. When people move away or start a new job or have a baby or get married, there's a brief hiatus in how the friendship will recalibrate. A slight rift in the status-quo has opened and the two parties have to decide how to clear this hurdle together. Some people don't get over this gap and fall to the rocks below. Some creep along the cliff face, inching closer to a new kind of friendship or closer to the other side, never to make the jump. Many, like V and I, step over this crack in the sidewalk and keep chugging along, acknowledging the new ground but simply incorporating it into the fabric of our friendship. Perhaps we don't see each other as frequently but when we connect, it's back to marathon-chats about anything, everything, and nothing.
So V moved to another time zone to start the next chapter in her life—and she goes big. V is co-founder of The Word, a non-profit literary organization working to build a publishing community that fights for inclusivity and diversity, while amplifying the voices from underserved communities and diverse backgrounds.
In this age of ethno-centric politics and divisive media and qualifying pain with #[Movements], having a sanctuary for those who are threatened, scapegoated, and continually attacked to share their stories, their feelings, their perspectives is so important, and so necessary, more now than ever. The Word | A Storytelling Sanctuary is that pinprick of light, shining through the cracks.
I was so thrilled to hear of her initial idea, and now to watch her piece together the logistics, to put in the work, to hustle and hustle and hustle and hustle to make this precious nugget of light take root and grow... I am just so proud of my Octopus Face Friend.
* Just a reminder that I am talking about The Word from my own thoughts and opinions. V did not ask me or pay me or shower me with Reese's Pieces for me to talk about her organization. She doesn't even know I'm writing about it. I'm really just that thrilled that someone I know and love is doing something amazing for the good of, ya know, the world we live in. By my own subjective definition, that's a very cool thing.
— Visit the website, check out the resources, sign up for the newsletter, volunteer! Let them know you dig what they are doing. It's hard work trying to make the world a better, more inclusive place and a nice shout-out never hurt nobody.
— Follow The Word on Twitter and on Facebook and share with friends. It's how you can find out about their latest news, their book scavenger hunts, upcoming events, their author mentorship program. All of it is just so cool.
— Because it is a new project just being born, The Word needs the things every newly created thing needs: love and support. Donate if you are so inclined.
— What happened when I Googled Octopus Face (aka my nightmare).