Fourteen years ago a friend and I arranged for some acquaintances from our debate team to go to a movie together.
We hung out incessantly after that. As teenagers, perhaps we depended on each other for a sense of identity. We spent hours in my parents’ basement draped over an uncomfortable couch, clustered around a tiny TV to watch movies or play my dad’s old Atari. My parents offered to let us use the better accommodations upstairs, but we declined.
When I left for college, and then grad school, and then settled halfway across the country, I still called my debater friends when I needed to laugh and when I needed to cry.
Three months ago I was visiting my dad when he required hospitalization, causing me to cancel plans with my debater friends. They asked me what I needed. They drove across the city to let my parents’ dog out, then across the city again to bring supplies to my father and I at the hospital.
Two weeks ago my parents moved for the first time in thirty years because my father’s increasing disability made their old house unsafe. When my debater friends heard, they offered to help before I could ask. They cracked the code of the cranky garage opener, rearranged the heavy furniture, and sat for hours talking with my parents and me.
I cannot tell you how much I love these people.
During college I went through a phase of questioning the meaning of life. I like scientific evidence and I hated that I couldn’t double blind clinical trial my way to an answer. But then I realized that when I was with people I cared about and we were laughing or deep in conversation, I felt the question was answered. Though I couldn’t put the feeling into words I felt this was the meaning of life.
This sense of connectedness fuels my life to this day. It is why I get up in the morning, and it’s what inspires my writing. Sure, I tend to write speculative fiction. But ultimately, I’m writing about the struggles humans face and the kinds of love that get them through it, like the kind that draws people across the state to my parents’ new living room fourteen years after their first invitation to a movie. A speculative lens is simply one method to bring the importance of our interconnectedness into focus.
By writing this post, I want to make space for all kinds of love. For the love I’m lucky enough to share with my family and my husband, and the kind of love that isn’t neatly defined by birth or marriage. Despite the aliens, and the magic, and the futuristic societies, this is at the heart of what I write. This is what fuels me.