It took me a long time to figure out what to write about for this blog post. On one hand, I feel like I have a million thoughts rolling around in my brain dying to come out. On the other, I’m exhausted from talking and thinking and feeling. All of that sounds super cryptic, doesn’t it? National events have left me fearful and despondent. While that would be enough to get my mind going, work has been extremely tough. Teaching is super hard work with the best of circumstances but the past two weeks have pushed many at my building to their emotional breaking point, including myself. Without going into too much detail, someone we worked with was arrested for disturbing crimes against our students that has forced all of us to question our judgement, our sense of safety and more. We have been offering comfort and support to both students and colleagues alike at the same time we are all struggling ourselves. This stress has led me to get sick and feel a weariness that is hard to describe.
Last night, as I faced the end of the week, I found myself sitting in my classroom just talking and talking and talking with a couple of colleagues We hadn’t planned on staying late or having an in-depth conversation, in which we shared our frustrations, fears and even hopes for what it could be like. It was like we just needed to be together. In many ways, we have been dealing with our own emotions, silently, individually, and it was time to start letting it all out. Then, after an hour or so, a student stopped by and joined in on the conversation, needing to talk as well about the feel of the building and the world. This conversation reminded me of the best aspects of what I do outside of fandom. At the heart of both teaching and political organizing is the relationship. With teaching, the relationships are both teacher to teacher as well as teacher to student. I’m thankful that I have great relationships with my kids and I’m grateful that I have found colleagues that I can be open with. Both help me be a better educator and person. Then, organizing only works with relationships. I have developed close friendships from fighting for a cause, for a campaign with others.
Interestingly enough, this all brings me back to Duran Duran and fandom. I became a fan as a kid alongside my best friend, at the time. I couldn’t think of Duran Duran without thinking of her and the fun we always had together. Then, of course, as an adult, I cannot separate Duran from Rhonda and other friends. Friendship and fandom go hand-in-hand. Yet, my thoughts about friendship and Duran are more than that.
Making friends has never been something easy for me with a couple of exceptions. As the youngest kid in my family, I always looked to my older siblings to figure out how to do things and I constantly marveled at my sister’s ability to find an entire group of friends. For example, her high school years were spent with a group of kids who loved hockey and musicals. Then, she went off to college and made lifelong friendships with her roommates. One of those roommates lives close to her now and often spends holidays with my sister and her family. Then, my sister and family vacations with the other roommate and her family every year.
Beyond my sister’s example, I also saw the friendship that existed within Duran Duran. While I was attracted to the band for their music, their style, etc., I remember thinking about how close of friends they all seemed. This was obvious to me when watching the videos for Hungry Like the Wolf when the rest of the band searched for Simon or Nightboat when everyone seemed worried about everyone with zombies walking around. Then, if that was not enough, I saw it again in the documentary for Sing Blue Silver. That image at the end of it when a number of band members standing together, hugging and already missing the tour is one that is burned into my brain for all eternity. If they weren’t genuine friends, would they act like that? Fast forward, a number of decades and I still see that friendship. I think my favorite clip to show the genuine love between them is this one:
To me, Duran Duran was like my sister. They had a group of friends that they could rely upon, who they always hung out with. I wanted that my whole life and never really felt like I had it. Yes, I have had some tremendous friendships with individual people but never had a group that I felt like I could fit in to. I always figured the reason was that one-on-one people might give me a chance and try to get to know me but a group never would. I wasn’t that cool or funny or whatever. Lately, though, with everything going on, I have found myself appreciating the friends I do have. No, they might not be a group like my sister has or what the members of Duran have, but they are good people who have given support and will continue to give support. Something tells me that I will need those friendships more and more.