This past weekend, we had a very good friend visiting from the Bay Area. We played so hard (the Art Institute, Hemingway’s birthplace, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, excellent beer at the Hopleaf, and a frighteningly awesome flight on a 1979, four-person, Cessna, over Michigan City) that we pooped out Sunday evening.
But the very best part was spending time with our friend, and it got me thinking. Friend is such a marshmallow word: fluffy, sugar-sweet, and empty. The word just doesn’t have the right connotation linked with it. Camaraderie is a bit better, but still doesn’t quit fit what I want it to mean. I bet there’s a fantastic German word for it. Something like: “betterthanicecreamperson” or “firstcallImakewhenIamintrouble” or “shehasgotmyback.”
This is really what “Cast the First Stone” is about. Deep down, past the literary descriptions and universal themes (poverty, that in-between place of adolescence, and finding God), this story is about that distinct, uncommon, hard-to-find connection between two individuals.
I consider myself pretty lucky to have the kind of friends that are not seen in most popular media. The chic-lit friendships in so many books and television shows are composed of spiteful, back-stabbing, flat, and/or solitary characters that wouldn’t lift a manicured finger to help their supposed friend. I see the kind of “friendship” that I’m talking about mostly depicted by guys: men in combat, brothers, teammates, school chums. This is true, it seems, in a lot of coming-of-age stories as well.
I wanted a story that was true to the type of friendship (there’s that word again) that I’ve experienced: tried and true, loyal and feisty, tough as nails friendship. To this day, it’s these resilient relationships (through many are miles and miles away) from which I draw my creative muscle, my tenacity, and my faith.
P. S. Thanks for the amazing weekend, Maggie-D!