Throwback to kindergarten! I’m in the front row with the looooong braids and the blue. One of the things that stunned me about moving to Minnesota is how folks from here are often still friends with people they met in kindergarten. They have tight knit social circles that are filled with folks they’ve known literally their whole lives. I look at this photo and I remember no one. I don’t have contact with a single person in this picture. Now, maybe it’s because I changed schools the next year, but I don’t have contact with anyone from that school either. I didn’t stay put. As a high schooler I traveled on two mission trips that introduced me to teenagers from all over the country. I went out of state for college. I went to grad school in New York. I moved to MN. In each place I was often re-inventing myself. Outgrowing ideas and beliefs that were no longer healthy, outgrowing ways of being and acting that no longer served me. And sometimes that meant people no longer wanted to be in my life. Sometimes it meant I had to walk away from people who were no longer healthy for me to be around. I used to feel badly about myself for this. It felt like I could never settle in one place. It felt like either I was always leaving or always being left. And sometimes I still feel that way; as if I am replaceable in people’s lives. But what I do know is I have fought to be myself at every stage and in every place I’ve been in. I have fought for authenticity. Fought to be seen. Fought for health. Even when it has cost me. And so I don’t know anyone in this photo anymore. But I know that kid in the front row. And I know I have fought for him and protected him and gotten him to safety. And honestly? That’s all I need to know.