I met K.B. when I was in grade 12 and she was the “new girl.” I walked into my Functions & Relations class on the second week of the school year, and there she was, sitting in “my” seat.
She was wearing one of her dad’s white shirts, knotted at the waist, and a long skirt. Can’t remember the shoes, but I’m willing to bet they were . . . unusual. Probably Birkenstocks before they were popular. (She was a hipster before hipsters were even a thing, which kind of makes her the ultimate hipster, doesn’t it?) More likely than not, I was wearing a thoroughly put-together outfit with matching pantyhose.
I am such a creature of habit that I was momentarily frozen to the spot. Perhaps she was just sitting there for a moment to talk to Chip, the football player sitting in front of her? Should I wait?
“Oh! Am I in your seat?” she finally asked.
I can’t remember what I answered, but I mumbled something and found myself another seat. God, I was a dork.
Not an auspicious beginning. I believe our friendship didn’t actually take off until she showed up at our high school’s Christian fellowship group. She apologized, unnecessarily, and told me she had worried that I had a crush on Chip.
Obviously, we eventually became fast friends.
She loved that class. Just adored the problem-solving of algebra. To her, it was like a puzzle, like a really cool Sudoku. She loved the way the formulas started out deceptively simple, then expanded beyond all reason only to compress back down to an elegant form. She never tired of it.
Unfortunately, her enjoyment and her achievement did not match. She sucked at math. Not because she didn’t “get it” or didn’t try hard, but because, basically, she wasn’t OCD enough. Little errors slipped in and were compounded.
So we buddied up. I had the skill, but lacked the enthusiasm; she had the contagious passion but needed a proof reader. And so it began.
Many of you will have heard of Brené Brown, a TED speaker and author of Daring Greatly. Her theme of “wholehearted living” describes exactly how K.B. lived: passionately, embracing it with her whole heart. Here’s one of Brené’s “badges” to help remind us to learn from K.B.’s example.