Personal essay (narrative nonfiction, brief memoir)
Date Published: Oct 19, 2020
Publisher: Jack Walker Press
Friendships serve as a cornerstone to a rich life. Each of these twenty-four accomplished authors shares authentic stories that consider the meaning of life affirming, sometimes life saving or gut wrenching, and fun realities of investing in each other: Think chicken soup with adult beverages.
“A thoroughly enjoyable and heartfelt read! This is an invaluable book for anyone seeking insight and comprehension of the convoluted and often misunderstood road we travel known as friendship. A definite 5-star rating!” –International Review of Books
“Friends: Voices on the Gift of Companionship will take you through the full spectrum of what it means to call someone “friend.” It’s the book you reach for when you need to feel connected to humanity.” –Skye McDonald author of the Anti-Belle series
“The authors in this anthology come from a wide range of backgrounds, and share their stories of friendship with convincing, if often difficult, passages. …We may still regard the gifts of shared histories as nourishment to sustain us.” –Carol Barrett, Ph.D. Coordinator, Creative Writing Certificate Program, Union Institute & University; author of Calling in the Bones and Pansies.
“As the stories evolve, readers will relish the personal tones, touches, and explorations that consider the nature of friendship, its gifts and resiliency, and its lasting impact on all. …an outstanding key to understanding how relationships evolve, change, pass, and often come full circle to become even more valued as the years go by.” — D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
JULIA ANNE MILLER
About a year later, my daughter Ashley was born. I loved her father, but I was eighteen years old, and I knew how life worked. Sure enough, he left when she was six-weeks-old, disappearing into drugs and alcohol. Ash and I had lived in places where you keep the lights on at night and push heavy objects up against the doors and then in a shelter where it didn’t snow inside. My mother-in-law Karen said she’d never seen anyone stretch a nickel so far. Karen and I have been friends for forty-one years. I gave up on my husband, but I kept his mother.
I also kept his second wife, Teresa, with whom he had four sons. I like to introduce Teresa as “my first ex-husband’s second ex-wife” and watch people do the math in their heads.
Teresa helped me raise my daughter, and my daughter is perhaps the strongest woman I know. When one of her brothers was a teenager, he asked, “If you were in a bar fight, who would you want by your side?” Without pause, and in unison, everyone in the room said, “Ashley.” Ash handles life like a preacher handles snakes: without fanfare and fear. When she gets bitten, she tends the wound; then, she moves on.
Alice Walker speaks of a “twin self,” an inner self that is one’s home. The “twin self” that my internal mirror reflects is that strong rope, the one made sturdy by all the women woven into it. If I removed any strand of that thick rope, I would unravel a part of myself. Each woman lives in the home inside me, where self and twin-self reflect each other.
BOARD IN THE SUBURBS BY
I heard the clink of metal on metal and then the slap and clip of urethane landing. “Whoops” came from a lanky kid with exaggeratedly long legs that sloppily careened with his board while his arms swung. I couldn’t figure if he were grasping the air for balance or pumping his arms in joy. His smile got me stoked.
I saw a sheet of particleboard, not even plywood, hauled up on top of a green plastic recycling bin set next to a rail in a house’s driveway. This kid had been rolling up, grinding across, and then hopping off. The metal on metal sound must have been from a 50-50 grind.
It was janky do-it-yourself-itude. I knew exactly how that felt, to make something happen with what you have, like finding a backyard pool to skate.
I figured the pool would still be there as I showed off to this kid skateboarding in my neighborhood. I started stretching my foot as far forward on the ground as possible and then pulled my board along and pushed fast, faster. I set my foot on my tail and tilted back, lifting my front truck off the road and balancing a manual in front of the kid’s driveway with my back to him.
I set the front wheels back on the ground and pushed off again. I wanted to snap and grab my board on the wedge-like driveway a few houses down. As I pushed to pick up speed again, I figured if I made the trick, I would introduce myself, but if I bailed, then I’d pick up my board and skate off to the draining pool.
I rode up the driveway and popped an ollie, up, up. My trailing hand grabbed the side of the board in front of me between my legs. My thumb caught the grip tape, and my fingers curled underneath on the board’s laminated bottom. I floated and turned in an arc.
I released the board, and my wheels landed. So, I rolled across the street to the kid.
He introduced himself as Adam and said, “That was rad, man.”
“Thanks.” I nodded my head. “This is kinda cool, too.” I pointed to his ramp-to-rail setup. “Wanna try?” Adam asked.
We tried each other’s tricks: grinds and airs. It was like a demo: showing off and having fun just sessioning. I skated with Adam until the streetlights flickered on.
About the Author
Amy Lou Jenkins holds an MFA from The Writing Seminars of Bennington, has taught writing at Carroll University, Milwaukee Area Tech College, and conferences and workshops, including NonfictioNow/Iowa Writers Workshop and Write by the Lake/University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her essays and stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies, including The Florida Review, Flint Hill review, Leopold Outlook, Sport Literate, Earth Island Journal, Consequence Magazine, The Maternal is Political, Journeys of Friendship, and Women on Writing. She’s the author of several books including Every Natural Fact; Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting. Her writing has been honored by US Book Award, Living Now Book Award, Ellis Henderson Outdoor Writing Award, and XJ Kennedy Award for Nonfiction and more. She pens a quarterly book review column for the Sierra Club. She writes for children under the name Lou Jenkins. She and her husband split their time between Wisconsin and Arkansas. Unless it’s so cold it hurts, she’d rather be outside. Follow her at www.AmyLouJenkins.com
paperback copies of Friends