Kirk and I often write here about the kind of connection one might find at the beginning of a relationship; where neighbours reach out to one another or communities create contexts for citizens to meet. Today I want to write about those connections becoming deeper. I want to write about friendship.
It has been several months since I posted in this blog. I have been on maternity leave while Kirk holds the fort. Because of his generosity and support, Come In From the Cold has remained active and live (impressively so!) and I have something to come back to. So the focus of today’s post is about the kind of friendship you can expect if you are lucky enough to deepen your connection with Kirk Hinkleman. (There are lessons for us all in the way he ‘friends’, so I hope this won’t seem too much of an indulgence).
The timing of this post is deliberately set to coincide with this year’s Toronto Summer Institute. On the last day of the 2011 Institute, I (properly) met Kirk and his dear friend and colleague, Beth. We were all regretful that it had taken us until almost the end to connect; we were all quick to open ourselves up to the possibility of friendship. It was another year until we would all meet again, so Kirk made sure we had found one another on Facebook. Those two are quicker to build a genuine rapport than anyone I have met and we spent our last evening laughing, laughing, and laughing.
It was really the following year (2012) that our friendship deepened. Again, this was with Kirk and Beth (they are kind of a pair), and the wonderful Joy, but I will try to focus on Kirk. We began again with humour, but I had experienced a pretty awful year and couldn’t be real with people unless I could share a bit of what I had been through. It was so easy to share this with Kirk. He absolutely creates space for other people’s pain and vulnerability. He is comfortable with whatever you bring. Crucially, he returns your trust by being open and vulnerable himself. He is a man who is not afraid to cry!
Now another year on, and I know that Kirk is as reliable and generous a friend as anyone could hope to have. I am not as productive with the blog as he is, but he has always been patient with me and – despite my propensity for guilt – I have never felt bad about it because he has never made me. He does what he says he will, and is available when he says he will be, but he expects no more of you than you can give. It feels very safe to have Kirk as a friend.
This year, I am not at the Toronto Summer Institute. Kirk has already sent me an email with a photo of him standing beside a ship named ‘Caledonia’ to let me know I am not forgotten. He has found a way to include me in a workshop via Skype, to reassure me that I have a place there. He thinks about his friends, even when he is immersed in learning and creativity and we are thousands of miles away.
It was due to conversations and ideas at last year’s institute that this blog was born, so this is almost our first birthday. I am so grateful to be partnering such a gifted writer and community-minded individual. But above all of that, I feel incredibly lucky to call Kirk Hinkleman my friend.
Happy Institute, Friend!