World, please meet my longtime friend, Tom Schwans. Tom and I went to college for two years together (because he’s two years younger than I am. Isn’t that amazing how math works?) and had really fallen completely out of touch for years and years. Until I had a super fabulous theatre dream about him and our mutual friend Joel Liestman four years ago. It was so vivid, and I remembered it so clearly, that I sent Tom a Facebook message to please give me his phone number so I could recount the dream to him. Thank goodness for social media!
On a long drive to Bismarck (our state capital in case you’ve forgotten. For most of us, seventh grade geography was a looooooooong time ago!), I reconnected with Tom; we laughed joyfully over the bizarre dream, and we have stayed in better touch ever since. And I have been so grateful for that.
One of the great gifts you discover as you get older is that the people who knew you when you were young, naive (maybe just I was naive?) and practicing wing spreading have a sacred position in your life. They experienced your first forays into adulthood with you. They had front row seats to watching, and often participating in, the optimism, the despair, the fear, the youthful exuberance, the failures, the successes and everything else. And in looking back, you can see they played a much larger role in helping to mold and shape you than you can ever understand in the moment.
Tom fits squarely into that position. We weren’t really friends in college. Two years age difference is a lot of years in college, and I was thinking about the next phase of my life and not really looking to make new friends. And yet, I clearly remember sensing that Tom had a depth to him that, despite his pretty dorky exterior (I’m just reiterating what he basically says in the podcast!), was there, lurking under the surface.
I wasn’t wrong about that.
I hope you’ll take a listen to our conversation. It’s far reaching, flits here and there and is a little bit rambling–not unlike my self proclaimed honey bee approach to life. But I’ve discovered that if you allow your mind (and your conversations) to wander off to where it wants to go, you find the best, most unexpected things.
I think this conversation proves that point perfectly.
Oh, and two notes for myself, since I am definitely “fixing the engine while I am driving the car” with this podcast (and much of life, let’s be honest): I need a better microphone, and I have to control my “yups.” I sound like a Chihuahua. Good grief!
Thanks for a great conversation, Tom!
Because I like it when people give me follow up “stuff” (or what many people call research or supplemental materials) in case I want to dig deeper:
Here’s a link to learn more about this very funny play.
Sharing from the Facebook page of my friend, Jennifer Liestman, wife of Joel and also a classmate of ours. This article by Nicholas Berger for Medium is haunting and takes Tom’s idea of craving human connection even further.
Info on The Guerrilla Shakespeare Project.
I think this paper helps explain the flight patterns of honey bees, but I could only kind of make it through the abstract because…well…science.
Also, in case you are obsessing over the connectivity of all my content, it was the staging of this play that taught me how to “enter a room in a dress with a train as a wealthy 18th century woman.” Bonus points if you knew what talk that insightful nugget was from!
My friend Caity Birmingham and I did a short film adaptation in 2007 of my graduate literacy narrative, Think But This and All Is Mended. Yes I did have super short hair a long time ago.
And finally, I don’t know if anyone is still teaching G.O.T.E. sheets, but the practice of doing it has proven to be quite useful for my life.