Carolyn is now married to a wonderful man, but back in college she attracted some real characters. One of them was from a former Soviet republic and was studying at our university. He hung around the periphery of our friend group, flirting (or trying to) with most of us at one time or another. His English was probably fine in an academic sense – he could read and understand everything just fine. But, as is the case for any learner of another language, the customs of casual spoken language were much harder for him to grasp. This led to some hilarious moments, one of which was when he declared his feelings about her by shouting- “I am crushing at you!” Needless to say, this has become a favorite phrase in our friend group. Today for my #WCW I am totally crushing at you Carolyn!!!!
Carolyn is one of my hoohah friends who miraculously has become an even closer friend in the years since college. She and Norah were in the room next door to me my freshman year in college. Their shenanigans were infectious and their laughter contagious. The two of them helped educate sheltered me on the joys of 80’s music, scandalizing me with their encyclopedic knowledge of Madonna, Meatloaf, Bonnie Tyler, Heart, etc. lyrics. (The fact that I can even name those artists is truly only due to their tutelage.)
We connected further over worship music, history/political science/econ classes, and deep conversations about relationships and theology. Carolyn made it ok to be smart, to do well in school and to enjoy the process of study. I’ve not met many people who get as excited about whatever it is she’s learning than Carolyn. She still exudes that enthusiasm today – constantly reading and learning new things and always open to fleshing out whatever new content has come across her path with deep, honest conversation.
We’ve had so many good talks over the years. Most recently we’ve begun talking more over text – most often just shooting out over the cellular waves a cry for help or solidarity in the face of ridiculous kid behavior. But just as frequently we’ve been a lifeline for each other, letting ourselves say the scariest things, the darkest things, the things we’re not sure it’s ok to say out loud. I never would have believed that this kind of conversation could happen over text, but I can’t overstate how life giving and how grounding it has been to know that she’s there on the other side of the phone and even if she can’t respond right away, she will eventually. She’ll hear me, offer sympathy or a kick in the pants, whichever is most needed at the time.
Carolyn has shared much of her story on her own blog, Through the Ardennes, and I won’t go into too many of the details here. I feel privileged to have gotten a behind the scenes look at many of the things she’s written about though – infertility, adoption, trans-racial adoption, special needs, parenting, marriage, and more. She artfully and humorously explores these topics, allowing others a peak inside her journey and pushing us to think outside our expectations.
While she’s always been passionate about racial reconciliation and justice, her heart is becoming ever more attuned to the ways our American culture has set up systems that disadvantage her two black sons. She is one of the first white women I know who challenged me to think differently about what I saw as ‘normal’. She inspires me to speak truth to power and to not comfortably maintain the status quo of white supremacy that too often is masked by ‘normal’.
While she is currently buried deep in the land of toddler and preschool, her schedule dependent upon the whims of the tiny tyrants in her home, she continues to push herself outside of her comfort zone. She has found new ways of supporting her family’s income, has become a student of her children and their diverse needs, has found new hobbies in gardening and making art, stays involved and active in her neighborhood and church, and is a constant source of encouragement and strength to her friends.
You are an amazing friend. Writing this makes me want to hop in the car and brave 95 South to see you. But, since it’s rush hour, I’ll probably just send a text. XOXOXO
If you want to read more of my #WCW posts, hit the tag WCW to the right, or click on this link. Enjoy!