Sunday, June 15, 2014
My MFA Little Sister's Wedding
Biologically, I'm an only child. But four years ago I was assigned to be a Big Brother in the Master of Fine Arts program -- of which I had just survived my first semester myself -- to an incoming student from Fall River named Erin. We were matched up primarily because we both hail from Massachusetts and there weren't a lot of Bay Staters in our MFA program.
I sent Erin an email, welcoming her to the program. And I waited for a response.
And waited. (Eventually I emailed the woman who assigned me to be Erin's Big Brother and speculated that "maybe she would've preferred a Big Sister.")
Two weeks later, Erin finally emailed me back, apologizing for the delay in response because she had been away. A couple of days later I got a Facebook friend request from Erin, along with an email that screamed "I FOUND YOU!!!"
From that moment on, Erin wouldn’t let me become unfound. I say that as a positive. There were times in the MFA program when she would call or email or IM me, upset that she didn’t feel like she had what it takes to earn a Master’s. And I would talk her off the ledge, tell her to relax, take a deep breath, and reassure her that she’s one of the best writers I know and I’m sure her latest packet is another masterpiece. And shortly thereafter I’d get tagged in a Facebook post about how I was the best MFA Big Brother ever. In return, she’s been there at times when life kicked me while I was already down, and encouraged me to keep on fighting when I felt like giving up. I started this blog a few years ago and one time, after my life got hellacious and a month or so went by without me blogging, Erin IMed me that it was about time for me to "man up" and start blogging again. She’s the only person ever to write a guest blog for me, and while I’m always up for someone taking over the Philloverse for a day if they have a good idea, I think it was only appropriate that she was the first.
For my MFA cohort's graduation, I was asked to give the student speech. I asked Erin if I could read it to her, to practice speaking in front of an audience and to see if there were any last-minute tweaks I could make. She did an awesome job at handling both tasks. One semester later, Erin was asked to give the student address for her cohort’s graduation, and she didn’t need my help because she knocked it out of the park. But giving our respective graduation speeches was yet another bonding experience for us.
And, on the morning of this past Oct. 30, when the Red Sox needed one win to clinch perhaps the most improbable World Series championship ever, Erin tagged me on Facebook:
"Dear Red Sox,
Today is Phil's birthday. No pressure or anything, but a win would be a great gift.
And the Sox delivered to me the best birthday present ever. That’s Erin in a two-pronged nutshell: always thinking of you, and always getting results.
I bring all this up now because Erin got married yesterday down in Fall River. Let me first say that Ryan is one lucky guy. It was a great wedding, as nearly all are. But as things began to wind down late last night, Erin came up to me, gave me a hug and said, “Thank you for driving all the way down here. I’m so happy you came.”
I appreciate the gesture, of course, but I was taken aback. The thought never occurred to me not to attend. The Riv is only an hour away from me. She could’ve gotten married in Alaska and I would’ve found a way to be there. Because Erin’s always been there for me. She’s a true friend. And I’m happy for her.